Tag Archives: Losing a Child

My Favorite Scene: Wind River (2017) “Take the Pain”

I’m not a parent. I’ve never seen a piece of myself shining in the eyes of a child. I can’t imagine what that is like, and I cannot fathom what it must be like to have it and lose it. I have lost my entire world to grief. When you go through it, there’s a pernicious lie you’re told in counseling, by people who don’t get it, by most of pop culture: it gets better. The pain goes away. It doesn’t. It does change. It changes you. The knife-sharp pangs that wrack you in the beginning become a dull roar. You learn to live around it, but the person you were before never comes back. It’s something you suspect as soon as you lose the person: I’m never going to be the same. The most honest assessment of the grieving process that I’ve ever heard comes from one grieving father to another in the most underrated film of 2017: Wind River.

Taylor Sheridan’s modern western crime thriller (it manages to tick all the requirements for at least three genres) was another spectacular script from the Sicario screenwriter and a very impressive directorial debut. As good as Gary Oldman was as Winston Churchill, I thought Jeremy Renner’s performance in this film was the best acting I saw last year. Renner is always strong, but to the detriment of his appreciation, his performances are usually understated character work. With Wind River he was able to blend his gift for nuance with a clear, deep connection to the material. The porch scene is so intensely honest that it nearly blew me out of the theater. It’s a testament to how entertaining the film is in the midst of dealing with the bleakest terrain a human soul has to cross that I was able to walk out feeling like I’d finally spent time with someone who got it. I wish I’d have gotten a counselor as good as the one Renner’s character got at that seminar in Casper.Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen in Wind River

My Favorite Scene: This is Us Season One (2016) “The Art of Making Lemonade”

If you’ve given up completely on broadcast TV to produce quality dramas, I don’t really blame you.  Cable, with its freedom from content restriction, has carved out a golden age of TV drama to the point where there’s a greater quantity of well-written, well-acted drama on TV than there is in the movie theater.  The networks have retreated into formulaic shows and franchises like CSI, Law & Order, NCIS, etc.  There are some good shows for the super hero crowd like The Flash, Arrow, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but aside from The Blacklist, nothing to match cable.  That was until This is Us came along last season.

Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia in This is Us

This is Us isn’t just good; it’s great.  It’s a show I should hate since it constantly deals with family, death, relationships, y’know….real life.  It’s unapologetically earnest, consistently funny, always well-written, brilliantly acted, and in one year (we’re three episodes into season two) has already become the best network drama of the decade.  The show’s pilot contains a brilliant twist, which I don’t want to ruin if you want to give the show a try, but my favorite scene in it comes from the pilot in a moment of joy and heartbreak.  Two of the show’s characters (Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimilgia) have triplets in the pilot and they lose one of the babies.  TV veteran Gerald McRaney plays their doctor in three episodes of the first season, and Dr. K is my favorite non-recurring character (Emmy winner Sterling K. Brown is my favorite of the regular cast).  He gives Ventimiligia’s character wonderful and horrible news and then delivers a speech that should be hokey; it really should come off as treacly nonsense, but it’s not.  It’s a beautiful and wise scene, and if you haven’t given This is Us a try, do.  It’s an absolute triumph.This is Us, the art of making lemonade