Wish I Was Here Poster

Spoiler alert - only go further if you don't care about enjoying the film

As soon as the opportunity became available, I signed up to back Zach Braff's new film, Wish I Was Here. While I was curious as to helping someone - albeit someone famous - to crowd-fund a film, I didn't want to contribute too much of my own money. I went for the low, but not too low amount of $25. It got me a link to a pre-screening of the film and a t-shirt.

The T-shirt arrived last week - I'll put pictures up later on - and the link was sent to me on Friday 11th July. The rules were easy:

  1. The link works once
  2. You must watch it before 22:00 PDT on Saturday 12th July
  3. You must watch the film within 3 hours of pressing "Start".

As most of my friends weren't available - made me a little sad, but oh well! - I decided to sit back, put my feet up and watch the film.

Summary which won't do the film justice what-so-ever:

Firstly, I need to apologise for the summary. I suck at explanations for films and books. My default response to people asking me to explain them is to look them up on IMDB or Amazon for the offical synopsis. You might ask "why write a review" if I'm bad at explaining things. I wanted to write this because of how the film made me feel. Feel free to skip to the bit on what the film made me think about

The film starts with a view of the family going about a normal, family routine. Breakfast before school and then dropping the two kids off for the day. There's a discussion about late tuition payments - Zach Braff's character, Aidan, says it'll be covered by his father - and that it needs to be resolved, or the kids have to leave their Jewish school and enter public school.

Later on, you find out the reason for the late payment, Aidan's father (Gabe) has cancer and wants to try an expensive and unproven experimental treatment. The treatment doesn't work and Gabe is returned to his home, where he spends the next few days, before dying. In the time between prognosis and death, Aidan and his family go through a transformation, bringing the family closer together and Aidan starts to do something with his life. He's an actor without prospects, who eventually becomes an acting teacher and loves his job. He starts doing more with the kids and their home, which needs repairs. The two brothers (Aidan and Noah) reconcile over their father's passing. All in all, Gabe's death marks a turning point for every character.

It isn't that I think this film is necessarily going to change what I do in life, but made me reflect on my life and what I'm doing with my cosmically brief time on this planet.

This film is both moving and tremendously sad. Aidan is trying to get acting roles, but isn't successful and can't put food on the table for his family. His wife, Sarah, has given up on her dreams, so that she can provide for the family and enable Aidan his chance to follow his dream. Everything revolves around Aidan and his wanting to be an actor. The change happens as he has to come to the realisation that he is going to lose his father.

Aidan picks up the swear jar, which is full of cash due to his excessive swearing, and takes the kids on a trip to the location where he once had an epiphany. He doesn't have the epiphany, but he gets closer to his kids and treats Sarah to a spa due to guilt regarding her having to give up on her dream for him. He also gets the kids to help mend their fence and backyard pool.

He gets his shit together

Towards the end of Gabe's life, Sarah discusses his distancing himself from his kids and how he thinks they know how he really feels about them. They don't. This is where the film really made me think. On his death bed, Gabe tells both his children how proud he is of them both.

What the film made me think about:

I don't think we tell our loved ones enough how we really feel about them. I don't like to say this, but I do think I take my parents for granted. My mum was recently made redundant, giving her the opportunity to do what she really wants to do, which is focus on her crafting of awesome quilts, yoga mats, cards, teddybear beds, napkins, bread baskets; you name it, she can probably make it. I would love to show you some pictures and her webstore, but I haven't finished creating it yet. It's something I will endeavour to finish sooner rather than later - I need to put her first ahead of myself. I feel, now, more than ever, that I need to spend more time with my family, to learn what they know, to be part of what they do as I know they won't always be there for me. I won't always have their support, their care and their love. When Gabe died in the film, with so much left undone, it hit me hard. I know at some point, as we all will, that my parents will die. It scares me tremendously and I'm crying just thinking about it. I can't imagine a life without them. Until then, I need to make sure I take part in what matters to them.

For mamma, it's creating all these wonderful things and cooking. She put together a giant quilt for me. It took her months of hard work to create something I can't even fathom how to begin. She creates so many things for her friends and family because she loves doing it, as well as bringing joy to other people. She does the same with food - you don't leave this house feeling hungry and you've always had good food. The cooking I help with as I do love food and cooking it as well. That's one part of her life that I am abundantly happy to take part.

Mamma has a big heart and I don't think I really deserve to be part of it, but I'm glad I am.

For pappa, I think it also has something to do with making things (he can DIY the crap out of anything). Whether it's technological e.g. Arduino and coding or repairing decking, he can make it. I only have a rudimentary understanding of how he does these things, but I need to learn and I will.

Pappa is definitely one of the reasons I am where I am today with my line of work (digital agency as a project manager) and has helped me with understanding modern tech.

I am so proud of my parents. Some of my other friends couldn't wait to move out or don't have great relationships with their parents. I, however, couldn't ask for more. I had many boundaries when I was growing up and punishments for crossing the line. At the same time, when I turned 18, they said to me that I was an adult and the only things I had to do was to help out every now and then and let them know if I wasn't going to be home for dinner. To this day, I do my own washing, I help with cooking - sometimes - but I always ask if it's OK to go out or to have people over. I don't think they'd ever say no, but I've always thought that as long as I'm under their roof, I need to ask these things - it's their house after all.

I couldn't have asked for better parents. I am so luck and I wouldn't change a thing.

This is what "Wish I Was Here" made me think about. The importance of family and priorities in life.

Thank you Zach Braff for making this movie which made me think about life.