It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
The notion of suicide has always been particularly repellent to me. I can understand abstractly why someone else might be driven to such a final measure, but I doubt that I'll ever find myself there. I hope not. There would have to be terrible and compelling reasons of the most inescapable kind.
That's what bothers me about suicide as it's used in so many contemporary movies: It doesn't even seem to represent a personal choice. It's used more as a gesture against the way things are going in the world. Such a gesture may have some meaning in the philosophical universe of Albert Camus, but things are getting a little cheap when a hotshot song writer (or most other two-dimensional movie characters) decides to take his own final existential plunge.
Knocking yourself off, it seems to me, is a singularly ineffective way of getting back at the world. It is also a little two extreme as a way of getting back at yourself. "Who is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?" (pant, pant), the new Dustin Hoffman film, uses suicide more or less in that way, and that's what bothers me about it. Hoffman plays a spectacularly successful songwriter (along the millionaire lines of Burt Bacharach or Rod McKuen) who is filled with paranoia and self-doubt and an overwhelming sense of the meaningless of his life.
It may well be that his life is meaningless. But writer Herb Gardner ("A Thousand Clowns") and director Ulu Grosbard make no particular effort to convince us of that. Instead, the movie just sort of counts on us to agree that (of course!) anyone with so much success and money would (naturally!) be weary unto death by the very ordeal of being a Beautiful Person.