I'm probably one of the only people who believe Matthew McConaughey is way underrated as an actor. True, he's one of these guys who typically plays himself in just about every role. But hasn't Jack Nicholson made a name for himself among the critics doing just that? Perhaps it's because McConaughey is a fellow East Texan, but I believe few people play "real people" as good as he does. He didn't disappoint in his turn as Coach Jack Lengyl in We Are Marshall.
I saw the trailer for the movie while waiting to see Jackass, and it moved something in me. (The trailer, that is-- not Jackass.) I was vaguely familiar with the story, but other than that I assumed it would just be another football movie that stirred up testosterone-laden emotions with hard hitting and a good soundtrack.
Yet I went into the movie without even thinking about football, but rather with something my good friend Melissa said was in her mind throughout the entire film, which was UBC. So that's what I carried with me as I sat down.
And rightly so. The stories are different, but the themes were the same: As a community that has faced tragedy, how do you balance moving forward with remembering? How do you decide the proverbial "What they would have wanted," when there are a million different interpretations of what that means? How do those left behind deal with being a small remnant of the former world while all around them are new people who don't fully know the story and are seeking to put new fingerprints on their shared sacred place? All good, and gut-wrenching questions.
I've quoted Woltorstorff a million times over the past year or so, but I believe his words age well with time. He makes the comment that grief isolates. Our grief is so different that there can develop animosity between those who share it because we all feel the others are doing it all wrong. This is why into the metaphorical recovery room we need someone to enter who is not grieving, a doctor, if you will, who can empathize with us and diagnose our situation, and begin to help us heal.
And this is the part played by McConaughey in the movie. For us it was played by people like Brian McLaren, and Rob Bell (whose church leadership warmed all our hearts by simply being with us,) and in the kind words and hugs from others around town who hurt for us, but not with us.
Some people have velvet hands when it comes to walking others through difficult situations. They say things that need to be heard, but they say it with a delicate touch unavailable to most of us mere mortals. Marshall was blessed with a Coach Lengyl. We were blessed with others. One of my prayers is that, when the time comes, and if the situation demands it, I will be able to step into that position for someone else.
Oh, yeah, this is kind of a review, so I should say: Go see it. I cried like a baby. And it was good, even if you don't like football.