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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Grand Canyon (released in 1991) - A drama film starring Danny Glover, Steve Martin, and Kevin Kline

Grand Canyon may have great actors in the pivotal roles but the movie is essentially a Lawrence Kasdan movie, philosophical and introspective. This 1991 drama has Kevin Kline, Mary MacDonnel, Steve Martin, Mary Louise-Parker and Alfre Woodard as a part of an ensemble cast. This movie tries to understands the guilt, excuses, actions and incidents which shapes a life-time.
Mac is an immigration lawyer, played by Kevin Kline, is a victim of a holdup when his car breaks down at an unsavory location. But help arrives in the form of Simon, a tow truck driver who reasons out with the mugger to let Mac go unharmed. I found this exchange one of the compelling dialogues in the movie where the young thief asks Simon whether he is respecting him because he has a gun – you can almost feel the helplessness of a person raised on violence in this statement. A relieved Mac goes home and tries to think about ways to help his guardian angel Simon. He even feels guilty of his affluent status and also the racial divide separating them. As he makes the first step he is treading on glass, but this quest does change his outlook on racial equations which makes inequality passe.
Meanwhile at Mac's house his wife is also struggling with her mundane life. But everything changes the day when she comes across an abandoned baby while jogging and decides to bring it home. Struck by the fact that somebody could abandon a human life so callously she decides to adopt it and faces lot of resistance. Mac and Claire are faced with a choice, the easier one being letting the baby go to the state and carrying on with their life. But the choice they would make would change their life completely.

Mac's best friend David, is a B-grade film maker who specializes in violent films. In-fact he berates one of his assistants (played by Lawrence Kasdan, himself) for not taking a close up of a “money shot” where the brain splatters on the window. David played by Steve Martin is nothing comparable to his funny self. His brooding face with a grey beard does not even compare to his clown persona in earlier movies. But David has his epiphany when he is shot in the leg by an assailant. During the whole process he begins to question whether his violent movies contribute to the gun culture in the society. He does the turn around, by promising himself not to make the gory film, but to devote himself for eliminating violence from cinema.
As these people turn their life around, the people associated with them also experience the change, triggering a chain of events. Kasdan captures the change beautifully which actually draws you in to the movie. Towards the ending there are no perfect answer's for life's dilemma's as all of them gather around the majestic Grand canyon for a shared vacation trip. Claire and Mac find answers by adopting the baby and coming closer to Simon, but Davis just dismisses his revelations as something temporary.
Grand Canyon is not a regular movie which has all the answers to the characters problems and everything does not end well. It is a beautifully made drama chronicling everyday life where some get the grip of it and some don't. There is no black and white pictures, but only grey foggy areas where one has to make the best of it. The camera angles and the cinematography is very alluring and it does not give the brooding dark movie sensibility which is actually attractive. One needs to just understand it with an open mind and it will soon bind you for life.

Grand Canyon (released in 1991) - A drama film starring Danny Glover, Steve Martin, and Kevin Kline

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