"The great thing about getting older is that you don't lose all the other ages you've been." - Madeleine L'Engle.We saw Where the Wild Things Are last weekend. I wasn't sure what to expect, but the few expectations I had were low. I heard so many poor reviews before that I am not sure why I insisted on going anyway. After my disappointing boredom with The Time Traveler's Wife, I've decided I'm not obligated to go see movies just because I love the book.
But Where the Wild Things Are? It was stunning. Magical, even, although not in a stardust-and-loveliness, bring-back-the-joy-of-childhood kind of way. There was joy, but more than joy, this movie brought forth the heartache of childhood. And yet, it was magical in the way it coaxed out nine-year-old Alison and said, "I know."
It was not even a movie for kids, really, as much as for people who've survived childhood. It was sometimes difficult to watch. But it was also healing in a way I never dreamed it could be.
Emily of The Black Apple praised the movie's "honest portrayal of the razor-sharp loneliness often involved with being a kid," and I answered in her comments:
... yes. For me, Where the Wild Things Are was a beautiful, poignant depiction of my own childhood, particularly the helpless pain of conflict in a child's home. In the end, I thought it was a deeply sad movie, but a gloriously sad movie that gave me many reasons to be happy, with a very European sensibility and incredible lighting. It wasn't at all what I expected - or indeed, what I think many people wanted - but ultimately, it was so much more. For me, it was soothing.It's a very particular movie. The movie, by necessity, had to go way beyond the few words of the book. It takes the map laid out by the book, and finds its own way along the same road, but on a different journey. I can understand that many people wouldn't like it or connect with it, and I can even see how it might be hard for people who expected a sweet kid's movie to appreciate the deep, subtle stories woven throughout, highlighted in specific moments, like the way Max's mother looks at him as he sits at the table eating his supper.
But I loved it and am deeply grateful to Spike Jonze for making just the movie I needed.