On September 6, 2023

The Movie Diary: On the right route


I take the same route to my office every day. I’ve done this for a long time and only once have I been forced to detour. On that occasion, an 18-wheeler had been trying to avoid an accident and, in turn, caused a massive pile-up that blocked the entire highway. 

I came upon the accident well after it had happened and was unfortunately stuck in my position with no alternate route out. I sat there for an hour before things finally started moving. 

I experienced the full range of emotions during that hour, from selfishness (because I was going to be late and miss a meeting that I was presenting at) to gratitude (because I was not directly involved in the accident and would only be mildly discomforted).

The one lasting impact from that event was that I now check Apple Maps on my phone every morning before I leave for work, just in case there’s been an accident and I can reroute before driving into it. I do this religiously; I start my truck, I plug in my phone, and then I pull up Apple Maps for a quick look at the traffic patterns. 

So far, it’s been a complete waste of time (albeit, only seconds per day) since I’ve never encountered the same event again. However, I’m just superstitious enough to know that the one day I don’t check will be the one day I get stuck again, but this time it will be for hours. 

The other morning, I was waiting at a “forever stoplight” on my route (a forever stoplight is one of those stoplights that, if you hit it at the wrong time, you’ll wait there forever). On this occasion, I pulled up just as the light turned yellow, which meant I was going to be sitting there for the full duration. 

I glanced out my driver’s side window at the car next to me and noticed an impressive looking SUV with a female driver. She was middle-aged with styled hair and sunglasses. I imagined her to be an executive of some sort given her classy look and primped façade. 

She was moving her lips frantically, which meant that she was either talking on the phone or singing, and given the way her hands started to flail about, it was obvious she wasn’t singing. 

I watched her for a few moments until she slammed her hand on the dashboard and then grabbed her steering wheel and shook it. I knew then that something was terribly wrong in her world and looked away when I saw her turn toward me.

I was planning on waiting a few seconds before I looked back when I glanced out the passenger window at the car on the other side of me. This vehicle was a war-torn sedan whose hood looked to be from a different car. The guy inside had a beanie cap on and sported a disordered beard. He was leaning into his steering wheel like he was in anticipation of something big.

I noticed his fingers tapping on one side of the steering wheel while his lips playfully bounced around, indicating that he was most certainly listening to music. I was about to look back at the woman, when the guy looked over at me and smiled. He raised his opposite hand which displayed a coffee cup and nodded it at me as if toasting our interaction.

I nodded back and smiled and then turned back toward the woman, whose head was now leaned back against her seat. She appeared completely dejected.

I looked at the stoplight just as it turned green and started moving forward. The woman next to me gunned it, making a left turn as she frantically sped away. The guy on my right, who was heading in the same direction as I was, barely picked up speed. He slowly drifted away in my rearview mirror.

I laughed to myself at the juxtaposition of these two characters and how different they were approaching their lives (at least in that moment). It seemed obvious which one was happier, but then again, a short pause at a stoplight can’t reveal everything.

In this week’s feature, “Don’t Worry Darling,” we meet an entire community who appears to be living a happy and blissful experience of traditional 1950s values. However, something sinister is lurking beneath the surface.

Starring Florence Pugh and Chris Pine, along with pop star Harry Styles thrown in for pizzazz, “Don’t Worry Darling” is an odd psychological thriller that slowly pokes the viewer with ever-increasing tenacity. The film is highly stylized and incorporates an elaborate set of hallucinatory moments that the main character is hobbled with as she struggles to understand her incongruous circumstance. 

Check this one out if you like the occasional departure from traditional filmmaking. It’s also got some interesting feminist overtones that you may or may not find challenging. 

A perplexing “B-” for “Don’t Worry Darling,” now available for streaming on Netflix.

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at moviediary@att.net.

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