John Seven | Viewer's Discretion: Film, series probe what makes people tick
'THE ACCIDENT' (HULU) The human desire to assign blame is a deep one, especially in our modern society, where we operate under the precept that everything is under control and, therefore, any disaster must have happened because of a failure of those controls. Accidents, in this world view, aren't accidental. That way of looking at things isn't necessarily the most useful one, though, and obstructs the acceptance that tragedies can sometimes unfold through multiple factors, colliding at one unfortunate moment, and there might not be just one culprit.
That's the center of "The Accident," a four-part series written by Jack Thorne that takes a structural disaster in a small Welsh town and uses it to examine how we willfully ignore destructive aspects of our personal lives, but demand vengeance when outside circumstances do damage.
When a number of teenagers are victims of a construction site collapse, the families want answers from the corporation that is overseeing the project and are willing to take it to court. Overwhelmed by the emotional aftermath, it becomes hard to see their own children's culpability in the tragedy and to clearly discern a local hand in the tragedy.
At the center of the public outrage is Polly (Sarah Lancashire) whose forthright outspokenness places her there as much as her roles as mother and wife to people directly involved. Her husband (Mark Lewis Jones) is a psychological mess, abusive and wounded, and a member of local government melting under the pressure. The corporation is represented by Harriet (Sidse Babett Knudsen) the executive who decides to get directly involved in damage control, only to see the case spiral out of her control.
"The Accident" is at its best when it portrays the dizzying purgatory of being without the answers you want to hear and being willing to tear down the world to get them.
'THE MACHINE WHICH MAKES EVERYTHING DISAPPEAR' (OVIDTV)
This somber documentary by Tbilisi-based filmmaker Tinatin Gurchiani isn't necessarily something that you'd leap to watch as a casual time-passer, but I'll just say that sometimes you find power and inspiration from the trials of other people that you can't find elsewhere and are worth encountering, particularly during this myopic time in America when people across all strata embrace victimhood as their identity.
Gurchiani put out a call for young people to audition for a film she was making and then used these interviews as the backbone of the documentary she presents. It's a series of these young folks talking about their lives, about their hopes and dreams and the reality of their current existence. Gurchiani follows most of them outside the studio to get a glimpse of what they are describing
At first, you might think this is about individual young people in Georgia and of course, it is — but collectively it becomes about something larger, a national character, and watching it from this side of the world, I can't help but contrast it with Americans. These young Georgians don't talk about things not being fair, about deserving better, they don't obstruct their problems and place the blame elsewhere. Instead, they face things and they try to figure them out. They work it over in their brains, intellectually, and analyze their reaction to their situations. They don't lash out, they rationalize. It's fascinating.
It's an admirable stance, especially considering their trials, particularly with family and often of such an impact that their futures are obviously commandeered. This leads to some heartbreaking scenes from their real life, including instances of raw emotion that are rare to see on screen. This is the type of film that will enrich your understanding of people and the world, give you a broader perspective and a more forgiving heart, and inspire you to examine what you can do for yourself in the context of the amazing examples of humanity that you meet in this film.
John Seven is a writer in North Adams who has never been satisfied by movies and television that are easy to come by. He likes to do some digging. Find him online at johnseven.me
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.