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Life as a House

Director:
Irwin Winkler
Starring: Kevin Kline, Hayden Christensen et al. Length: 120 minutes
Rated: R
Studio: Warner Home Video


George Monroe is just about dead. He hates his job. His son seems to hate him, and his ex-wife is disgusted with him. He lives in a dump that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. He is numb and seems to have very little going for him.

Then he gets fired. Angry as angry can be, he “acts out” against the architectural firm where he has worked for 20 years, collapses, and wakes up in the hospital, where he learns he has four months to live. A kind nurse touches George and shows him compassion, and he notices…he finds his memory of what love used to feel like. He leaves the hospital determined to live out the dream of rebuilding his shack into a home he designed.

He doesn’t tell anyone about his illness. He shifts his way of being, however, and decides that his depressed and drugged-out teenaged son, Sam, must help him tear down and rebuild the house. Sam is as angry with George as George has been with his own father. Their road to appreciation and compassion is a pretty difficult one, but they get there. As well, George and his ex-wife Robin reconnect through the home-building process. She begins to see in him what she had fallen in love with years before.

Over time, George becomes a new man– or perhaps he just remembered himself. People like being around him. He begins to be present to people, especially to Sam, and this presence enables him to forgive and forget, and look to the future. His isolation and alienation recede as the wise and warm sides of him come forward. He reconnects with Sam through stories, and Sam begins to see him as someone he can admire. He also begins to feel his dad’s love.

This movie dramatically portrays the beauty of what can happen when a person decides to choose a different “story” to live in. In George’s case, his choice enables him to feel more whole than he has in years. And I couldn’t help but notice the power of love in this movie. Where none was felt, people were miserable. When love started to show, all kinds of good things evolved. My wish for those of you reading this is that you take the gift of today and make it count.

Reflections

 In your journal, reflect on the following questions:

  1. What gives you meaning in your life? If you discovered you had four months to live, how would you choose to spend your time?
  2. Whom do you truly love? How do you show them that you cherish them?

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