Melissa Roberts is an English Literature undergraduate at the University of Manchester. She is entering third year and writes for a number of publications.
The Beauty in Banality.
‘Maybe we’re just regular people, the ones who get saved.’ Is this such an awful realisation to have? Zach Braff’s Wish I Was Here allows us to explore what happens when we relinquish control of that desperate hunt for passion that haunts us all. Perhaps we have to have our dreams crushed in order to realise what our true passions are.
The film will most likely be the most refreshing and sobering part of your day, allowing you to realise something that should be painfully obvious, but for some inexplicable reason, isn’t. The inadequacy of reality is not a burden, but something that once accepted, releases us.
We have become a society that champions the pursuit and attainment of happiness, we are constantly asking ourselves “am I happy?” or “am I achieving my dreams?”. Perhaps what we really need to realise is that perhaps the people around us and the experiences of everyday life are what make us happy.
Those around him constantly reprimanded Aiden’s quest for happiness. It is a demonstration of the hypocrisy of a society that encourages us to chase our dreams while also coercing us into remaining in the positions that have been pre-assigned for us. It is only when he abandons trying to be a good father and husband that his life eventually has a renewed feeling of hope. We have to stop fixating on the things that we think matter and to try and make a greater effort with what we already have.
Everyone reaches a point where they ‘feel like you should have changed chapters by now but you can’t’. Wish I Was Here preaches that in the instant we abandon this quest for progression, we allow ourselves to actually enjoy the life that surrounds us. It encourages us to believe that hope is not an abstract entity that forces us forward, but a tangible reality that allows us to find beauty in banality.
Again, I find myself plagued by this societal obsession with the future and what we should be doing with our lives, since when did being happy within the confines of the present become such a mediocre thing? The swear jar is the perfect analogy for the lesson of the film; it starts off as a college fund for the children, but transitions into a way of making the family enjoy the present.
Once you have made this realization, as Aiden comes to understand, that we are “not magnificent” then you can begin to appreciate a life that allows you to achieve your dreams. This without the pressure to constantly be seeking a passion that had previously seemed a necessity for happiness.
The use of vivid cinematography throughout the film is a device that is put in place to challenge our perception of the mundane and encourage us to accept and understand the beauty of our reality. Despite the beauty of the opening sequence of images being situated within a dream, the picture of reality is then displayed with greater elegance in accordance with Aiden’s alteration in perspective. This, when coupled with Bon Iver’s “Holocene” produces an enveloping feeling of hope and optimism when perhaps before things had seemed desolate.
Perhaps our dreams are not something that we are always chasing, but rather we must realise that we are living and missing them. And amongst all of this we must ‘try to remember how fast it all goes.’