Even with ten minutes left before showtime, by the time Kevin was able to join me after finding parking blocks away, the theater was packed with senior citizens on this Saturday night. They seemed to have come together on a fieldtrip. It was quite adorable but we had to grab whatever seats were left.
Kevin whispered to me, “Guh sahram dul ‘Four Seasons’ gahteh.”
“Hey, why don’t you just say it all in English as you clearly say the operative words in English?” (He was comparing the seniors to the younger seniors in a movie called “Four Seasons” with Alan Alda, about folks vacationing together regularly in their twilight years).
We were out for a rare date night. We had rushed to pick our movie. Process of elimination: NOT “La La Land” because 70 percent chance that I would walk out (I can’t do musicals as I start picking at my nails as they break out into song after song. Plus, I heard this musical was set in my hometown of LA, minus people of color.)
NOT “Rogue One” because Kevin had already watched it by himself during the holidays after he hit up Toys R Us one late night. Plus I don’t watch sci-fi.
We considered “Patriots Day” (I will watch almost any Mark Wahlberg flick), “Split,” and “Lion.” “Split” looked too scary and Koreans warn against watching anything scary while pregnant so like a good Korean, I chose to abstain. I skimmed what “Lion” was about and knew this was It. An Indian boy adopted by Australian parents who goes searching for his biological family. Probably about issues of identity as hyphenated citizen and adoptee.
As soon as the movie started, I knew I was in trouble. The full Korean warning also tells us pregnants to avoid attending funerals or other lugubrious affairs as the baby will absorb all your sadness and mourning.
Plot unfolds in small town of India, far from Calcutta. A ten year old and his little brother, around age five, steal coal from atop trains in order to buy milk for their impoverished family. They do this cheerily because they have each other. I love them so much.
Oh, and the mom has three children. GULP.
The brotherly dynamics and the little brother’s eyes and mannerisms already defy the Korean advisory. I squeeze Kevin’s arm and whisper, “Yo, I can’t do this.” He is already wiping away his own tears about ten minutes in.
Heartbreaking scene after scene with little brother completely lost with no way to find home or the big brother he idolizes.
I take deep breaths. I recall the two other instances I was too affected from watching something:
- “Ga eul dong hwa,” a Korean mini series from year 2000. I wasn’t well for approximately ten days after finishing the series.
- “Philomena” – Completely wrecked after viewing this film in Sherman Oaks, CA, year 2013.
“Pssst…Where Dev Patel at? I thought this was going to be grown-ass Dev Patel searching for his roots while growing up in Australia thinking he just as White as his parents. Kevin, I need this to hurry up and jump to Australia already. I can’t take this.”
I go from fanning myself to hiding under my coat-blanket. I’m grateful when my bladder asks me to take it for a walk. In the restroom, I consider staying there to protect myself from getting more gutted in the theater. I walk back slowly, tempted to say to the employees behind the popcorn stand, “Please help me. I’m from Lion, in Theatre 2. I can’t stomach the sadness. The boy looks like my second son but less plush.”
I’m hoping I missed more scenes and that the boy has grown up into Grown Dev Patel of Australia but damn it, the gorgeous little boy has yet to meet his adoptive parents. I pray for protection of my heart.
I am a crier in real life but for movies, I do this weird thing where I am too macho to release any tears. I don’t think I cried during “Manchester by the Sea” but I had also braced myself for that one. This one, I hadn’t braced myself and had no idea what level of wrenching my heart was going to endure.
I couldn’t put up my walls and I had tears streaming down my face as I used my cowl neck to wipe my face. I had tears running down my neck and collarbone. Kevin and the senior citizens were weeping, a symphony of sniffles.
I FIND OUT DURING THE END CREDITS THAT THIS WAS A TRUE STORY. Lord, have mercy!
We leave the theater for a quick bite to eat before sitter curfew. We look like we were coming from a funeral. Kevin laughs at me – “Whoa, you really cried this time!”
“Don’t. Just don’t.”
“No, you look pretty! But your face looks all gaunt hahahhaa. You look older, Jihee-yah.”
We come home and I immediately curl into Ellis’ bed where I find a castaway (Micah from the top bunk). Ellis is moving so much in his sleep that he looks like he is going to fall off, so I hoist him into my arms and into our bed.
Kevin returns from taking our sitter home and asks, “What the?” when he finds E snoozing away in our bed.
“Please. You know you want it, too,” as we caress his cheeks and think about Little Dev Patel.
The next morning, I tell Micah a bit about the movie as I beg him for extra hugs. He looks at me and advises, “Just forget about the movie, ok? Think about something else.”
I don’t know how our children were born into a comfy American life where we forget to eat what’s in our fridges and sleep in warm beds while other children aren’t afforded the same luxuries. I will never just care about our own.
I just hope they add conspicuous Emotional Advisories on movie synopses because getting skurred during “Split” would have been nothing compared to this. I wonder if there is a viewer support group that the senior citizens host.