Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Solitary Man

The new film starring Michael Douglas, Solitary Man, is a disquieting look at what a lot of people base their lives on: money, sex, and power. I had read a review that said something like it's a movie you will love but not enjoy. I ditto that. I saw the movie last weekend, and I did love it but didn't enjoy it. Because it takes the laminate off the sinful nature that, truthfully, still resides in this heart.

Michael Douglas plays the role of Ben Kalmen, a car salesman who had been at the top of his game but lost everything because of shady deals and illicit love affairs. He's bereft of decency, faithfulness, and empathy. He reminds me of the man Jesus talks about in Luke 12:16-21 - a greedy narcissist. There is redemption here, however. It's offered at the end of the movie by his ex-wife, played by Susan Sarandon. Ben's story demonstrates the truth that "the way up is down."

A particularly sad scene was the one where Ben forgets his grandson's birthday. Ben's daughter, played ably by Jenna Fischer, does a good job of giving tough love to her boundary-ignoring father.

Douglas is perfect for this role because it complements so well his interpretation of Gordon Gecko in 1987's Wall Street.

John Calvin said that the human heart is an idol factory. In Solitary Man, you see the futility of searching for life in the idols of wealth, youth, and sexual freedom. Without God in the center, we are truly solitary. Not only are we alienated from others but we are alienated from God. We must "repent" - that is, return to the God who created us and who alone can fill the aching void in the heart.

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