I had not seen What Happened Was… in over five years. I remembered the plot, but not the power of the film’s conclusion.
When Tom Noonan’s character admits that something broke inside of him, years ago, and that he doesn’t know how to fix his life, the pain of self-actualization shot through me like lightning. I sat up for two hours afterwards; not in tears, but crying on the inside (COTI*, for those text messaging or chatting online).
I don’t remember the film hitting me that intensely last time. So, what changed? For one, I’ve slipped further away from the making of narrative fictional cinema. Instead, I’ve been working experimentally, producing documentaries, and designing video installations. All creative endeavors, but not exactly what I want to be doing. In some ways, I feel something in me broke or at minimum, something went off course.
The question then becomes not what happened, but what will happen next? Will I just keep watching films, telling myself it is okay, that with each film I watch I will learn something new, something I can apply to my own filmmaking or will I take action and make a change?
*I COTI much more than I LOL. What Happened Was… had me laughing out loud and I can’t remember if I ever found it so hilarious or if something else inside of me had changed, something that made the film more comedic. This change is harder to identify and not so shocking that it sends me into a state of panic, desparately wanting to reorganize my life and get back to doing what I have always wanted to do.