My girlfriend and I watched Georgia Rule last night on the handy, dandy dvd player. The movie's been out for awhile now. The main characters are a grandmother, played by Jane Fonda; her daughter, played by Felicity Huffman; and her granddaughter, played by Lindsay Lohan. Somebody named Bill Zwecker said, "A film that will touch your heart!" I'm glad that it just touched Bill's heart, because it broke mine.
It's a story about broken people. And I mean broken. The rock that's dropped in the middle of the storyline is that Lohan's character, Rachel, was sexually abused by her stepfather. And the ripples go out from there. Huffman's character, Lilly, spent years in a drunken stupor after her father's death, which may have opened the door for her new husband to abuse Rachel. Fonda's character, Georgia, lived and lives such a regulated (rules) life that she couldn't or didn't reach out to her daughter after her husband's death, which may have led to Lilly's drinking, which may have led to Rachel's sexual abuse, which led to one hour and 53 minutes of these characters rippling into the lives of other people in hurtful and harmful ways.
At one point, Lilly is sitting in the floor of her childhood bedroom, sloshed to the gills after learning of Rachel's abuse. Georgia comes in the room bearing chicken soup or something non-alcoholic for her daughter. There's some dialogue about the state of affairs and then all of sudden, Lilly says, "You never could say it...that you loved me." Georgia bobs and weaves with, "well, my parents never told me," or some such justification.
Oh, so that's it - the old "you never told me you loved me" line. Critics with more critical skills than Bill Zwecker would immediately say, "How cli-shay." I did. At first. But then I became less critical. Because there's something to that - being told you're loved. Now true, there's the empty "I love you" stuff that's just something to yell before you walk out the door each day; it's got little depth to it, just words. And there's also the "I love you" dark stuff, the kind that Rachel experienced from her stepfather in the shadow of night. But somewhere inbetween those extremes of abuse (and they're both abuse), there's this phrase - I love you - which has the power to make a significant difference in our lives. And it keeps showing up in movies, whether deftly handled or horribly acted, because it's something we all hold in common, this need to hear those words. Yes, it must have actions to shore it up, and yes, those actions need to be substantive, and yes, yes, yes, yes. But it seems to all begin with hearing those words, those words that will "touch your heart!"