On the flight to Brisbane, I was sitting with my colleague. RBA was playing a movie starring Robert De Niro but since I didn't put headphone jacks into those little holes in the arm rest, I didn't know what the movice was about. I saw Drew Barrymore as well as Sam Rockwell and Kate Beckinsale. I didn't give it much thought. On the flight back, that same movie was on. I decided with that many well known people it must be a nice movie.
It was a movie which is a bit of a tear jerker. Robert De Niro stars as a father recently widowed and one who asked his two sons and two daughters to come home during the holidays. Not a single one did. He thought he would go out and invite everyone to come home for the upcoming Christmas. His doctor adviced against the trip very strongly.
Robert took buses and trains depending on what's available just to see his children and leave personal invitations to each one of his kids. I personally found this moving and touching. This is what happens to every single one of us. As we grow older, we will find that our children living their own lives. In Robert's case, the children clearly kept in touch with the mother but not with him. Even if he answered the phone, they would say 'Hi Dad. Where's Mum?' Do you do that?
The movie focused on the theme of 'communication lines' even having Robert play a retired communication line worker. His job was to fix the insulation line on telecommunication cables. Anyway since it was not Robert that kept in touch with his children, with her death, he's doubly cut off from family. When his kids all find excuses to skip a planned reunion, he hauled out his suitcase and boards Amtrak with the intention of dropping in on each of them: the tightly wound Chicago ad exec (Kate Beckinsale), the Denver musician (Sam Rockwell) who's supposedly a symphony conductor, the sweet Vegas showgirl (Drew Barrymore), and the Greenwich Village artist son who's nowhere to be found.
We eventually found that everyone of the children was living a lie. His wife has apparently told him that 'everybody's fine' but that was not so. His son was not a conductor but only plays a drum, his daughter having a troubled relationship with her husband and her showgirl daugher was not a showgirl even borrowing an apartment and hiring a stretched limo to impress dad. Robert had always pushed them hard to be the best and when the children did not reach that level, they lied to him.
What was really sad was that he did not know his artist son had died of drug overdose. The other three kept that secret from him.
Anyway, during that christmas, everyone did come (of coure, minus the dead son).