Change in the Air
Victor Hugo once said, “Be like the bird who, pausing in her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing she hath wings.” Inner strength to rise above challenges, to rise beyond our past, and to discover the beauty of the here and now without worry of the future or regret of the past are the messages that resonate with me after watching Change in the Air. It is a contemplative movie, and it leaves you with as many unanswered questions as you began with. It makes you think about life. The frailty of it, the importance of enjoying every moment, and the necessity of moving beyond past regret and sadness to embrace the beauty that is all around. It is a movie that doesn’t just end – it stays with you throughout the day. And it is well worth your time.
The Stories of Many
A quiet, tree lined, close knit neighborhood of mostly retired people is the setting for Change in the Air. Wren, a young woman with a mysterious past and mysterious hobby moves into an upstairs apartment above a house, and the neighborhood becomes engulfed in her story, and what she could possibly be doing with the hundreds of letters she receives and reads each day. Wren is quiet, and keeps to herself. She doesn’t share what she’s doing with the letters. In fact, she shares very little about herself at all. Joanne, or “Jo-Jo” as her husband Arnie calls her, seems to be the neighborhood gossip, and is very curious about Wren’s activities. So much so that she gets herself in trouble on multiple occasions throughout the movie for snooping. Jo-Jo’s past is slowly revealed throughout the movie, and we are shown the inner struggle with guilt from her past that she deals with daily. Arnie, her husband, is an ornithologist, someone who studies birds. Throughout the movie he seeks out a rare bird that he swears he saw earlier, all while trying to keep his wife out of trouble from all of her snooping into Wren’s strange life. Walter is the neighborhood watchman, as he sits daily in his lawn chair in the front yard. He never says a word, just watches everything that goes on around him. His neighbors often come sit with him in his quiet, even bringing a piano to the front yard to play. Even his wife Margaret cannot get him to speak, and shares the sadness of him no longer enjoying life the way he used to. All of these individual stories play out together in a strange, but very thought provoking manner. Through Wren, and the neighborhood’s fascination of her, (which includes the mailman and local police officer as well), the characters each discover the beauty of nature, the beauty of the written word, and the release from the past that can come from sharing with one another the memories that keep them going, and the memories that haunt them.
Unanswered Questions, Beautiful Togetherness
It is difficult to put into words the storyline of this movie and what it’s about. While the overall plot revolves around figuring out why Wren gets hundreds of letters each day and what she does with them, the real story is somewhere underneath. It’s in the lives of each character, in their individual stories and what each of them learns throughout the movie. It’s in the freedom that Jo-Jo seems to find throughout her quest for knowledge of Wren. It’s in the ability of Arnie to love his wife and care for her despite her quirky, nosy attributes that often get her into trouble. It’s in the silence of Walter, and the neighborhood’s care for him simply by being there alongside him each day. It’s in Wren’s obsession with the stories of others, and the freedom found through the expression of these stories. Change in the Air leaves you with so many questions, so much which seems undone, unanswered. But also with so much to think about, and with a sense of peace that is strangely fulfilling. It is thought-provoking and beautiful. The characters each learn that just like a bird who knows it can fly and therefore has no reason to fear the wavering branch, they too have inner strength. Each person’s story has the ability to impact the lives of others. Together, we can all share something beautiful.
Julie is a life-long Hoosier, wife, and mother of two. When she is not working in her pharmacy, she spends her time with her husband and daughters in Indianapolis. She is a member of Geist Christian Church and enjoys playing outside with her girls, finding fun things to do in Indy, watching football, and reading bedtime stories.