It’s not like me to really write a movie review. And this piece of writing is not intended to be so, either. It is not so much about the presentation style of the movie, but the concept presented in it. For those of you who have not yet watched the movie, I would not want this to be a spoiler for you. Do watch it first. Of course, I do hope that you will come back to read the perspective that I present here and leave behind your own comments too!
So, a bit of a background about the movie, the way I experienced it:
Starts off with scenes of a little boy, who lives in stories and for stories. He is filled with his own stories and sees characters he has heard or read about everywhere he goes. An endearing little kid, I must add here. He grows up only to be introduced to the harsh reality that stories cannot fetch him a livelihood. The stories are forcefully stolen away from him or rather he just buries them somewhere deep inside. As this kid grows up, he adopts the façade of someone with little imagination. (I don’t know why more often than not, the kid has to be a ‘he’). Goes on a vacation to this romantic place called Corsica in France, and finally, in what probably has been years, allows his free spirit to express itself in complete abandonment and in its full glory. He meets a girl, who falls in love with this free spirit.
Back in city life, he puts his mask back on. The girl searches for the free-spirit which unfortunately, has lost itself in the concept of ‘right thing to do’. Unable to find it, she decides to walk away, simultaneously and somewhat unintentionally, triggering the free spirit to knock and to be let free. The knocking soon turns in to a full-blown banging. And here starts the journey to find or rather re-discover oneself. Of course, the self emerges, the lost stories come alive again, the free-spirit reinstates itself and happily ever after ending with a passionate kiss.
I liked it. It made me reflect and think about life. A movie that can make me do that, I always like.
My perspective on the movie: Was all about extremes
Extreme personalities reflected during the vacation and city life. Extreme steps that the protagonist takes in finding himself; quitting his job or rather being fired in an unceremonious manner, a bolting realisation that hits him during a single conversation driving him to take the final plunge and finally the extreme come back of his free-spirit.
Of course, as a movie, a depiction of such extremes is critical, to get the adrenaline of the audience pumping and to drive a deep emotional engagement of anyone watching. In the extremes, lies the inspiration.
But does a movie always have to be about inspirations? Can it not sometimes be solution oriented, I wondered, as I watched the protagonist move between the extreme?
Facets of personality show up: I mean, in real life, I have never really met anyone who has caged himself or herself into such tight boxes of personality; one for the vacation times and the exact opposite in city life. This kind of ‘in-boxing’ oneself does not quite happen I think and is neither water tight. Facets of personality do get reflected in real life. I think that a person with imagination cannot keep that hidden for too long. In some forum, it would show up. Humour shows up. Imagination shows up. As does anger or any other emotion for that matter.
Transition is never over-night: In a desperate attempt to find himself, the protagonist pushes an old story-teller to predict the ending of his own life. Hearing the statement, ‘you are a coward’, a sudden eureka moment of realisation, followed with a decision. In real life, for anyone struggling with the concept of finding one’s true self, one’s purpose or mission, it is never a eureka moment. Rather, it would be a continuous engagement with self. And this engagement needs to be conducted with an openness of the heart and the mind.
As I watched the protagonist go through these motions, I could not help but think of how a robust Employee Engagement programme in his organisation would have helped him! Might seem a bit tangent or far-fetched, but extremely practical in my view. Many research studies have already established that an engaged employee is a productive one and therefore contributes immensely to the organisation’s growth.
1) An EAP or a Counselling Service: The protagonist was going through a major emotional crisis. There were so many pent-up issues and emotions he was experiencing; a break-up, a desperate desire to break away and run for life, anger and many others. Talking to a counsellor would have been very useful. Talking through the issues to a neutral person would have helped him gain clarity at one level. At the other, it would have helped him to just release emotions and re-kindle the dreams that he had suppressed for years.
2) Manager Support Programmes: His boss had appropriately identified stress in his team member. However, the manner in which it was dealt with was inappropriate. He was not only quick to attribute it to the break-up but also tells his team member that there was no reason to be so heart-broken. Initially, he does attempt at being understanding but gives up soon. Through the Manager Support Programme, the supervisor could have in turn also spoken to a counsellor or any other neutral party on helping the team member through this situation, rather than asking him to sweep it under the carpet.
3) Flexible Working Arrangements / Policies: An option of this kind would have allowed the protagonist to have many options- appraisals being done purely on achieving deliverables, project based work options, altering the work arrangement in a manner that allows the individual to have a parallel career if they so wish, offering a year-long sabbatical....an organisation keen to create a truly engaged workforce may have other creative options for its employees.
4) Expressing Compassion & Empathy: Post the break-up, his team invites him to hang out in the evening. He hides his hurt under the garb of being relieved. A compassionate person would have seen through this put-on behaviour. Rather than partaking with his put-on behaviour, expressing empathy may have avoided him from falling off the cliff.
5) Various On-going Sessions: Communication on the importance of better relationships, recognizing that an individual brings to work not only the skills but also his or her entire self, sessions on emotional intelligence and many other similar initiatives could make a big difference.
In fact, I think the options could be many. We would love hear from all of you on how you think an organisation’s employee engagement or wellness programmes could have helped.
Deepa Agarwal holds a Masters Degree in Economics and is currently pursuing a Diploma in Counseling from the TISS. She has worked in areas of Research, Learning and Development, Diversity and Employee Wellness and brings with her a unique blend of experience and insight from the corporate and academic sectors. She is also penning her first fiction!