Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Hear And Now

Hear and Now is the kind of movie to be blown away by and also remember wistfully. It can be about and mean different things to different people. I saw in it a story of a couple deeply in love -a marriage based on a profound level of communication that needs no words. Paul and Sally Taylor have been deaf all their lives and are married to each other. At sixty five, they get the gift of hearing by a cochlear implant.

The movie documents the anticipation before the operation, the event itself and life with sound in it. Irene Taylor Brodsky portrays the myriad of complex emotions that her parents Paul and Sally experience with great sensitivity and like any well made movie, makes it look effortless.

For the first time in their long marriage, Sally falls behind Paul when she is not able to match his pace with being able to hear well with the cochlear implant. It makes her anxious and even depressed at times. The world that they had shared together seems to have fallen apart. Paul is leaving her out in savoring aural experiences. Paul is not nearly as competitive and is happy to wait for her to catch up.

As much as they like being able to hear for the first time in their lives, the initial euphoria soon gives way to a desire to return to the old and familiar ways and retreat to the absolute silence they were used to. The pressure to hear all the time and everywhere is simply overwhelming. Paul expects nothing from this operation and is delighted to have what he has recieved. Sally is upset at herself for wanting more out of her new found ability to hear and is frustrated that she cannot become a hearing person fast enough.

Their relationship struggles because of this fundamental difference in their outlook - something that obviously became evident only when this life changing event occurred. It seems as if Sally had always been conscious of her handicap and longed to remedy it but Paul never thought of himself quite like her.

To me this is also a story about the power of acceptance in life and feeling grateful for the gifts we either take for granted or have granted to us in an unexpected act of largesse. After a year of ups and downs, Paul and Sally manage to find a comfortable pace that they can walk together. After the challenges, their relationship is even stronger for their new ability to communicate by the sound of laughter and tears. An absolutely must-watch movie !

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