Friday, 21 July 2017

Café (4 Stars)

"What can I do to make you believe in me?"

It's a small café on the street corner of a sleepy suburb in West Philadelphia. It's run by Todd and Claire, who happily serve their customers coffee and muffins. They're not the owners. They were hired on the phone by a mysterious Mr. Green who they've never met in person. Todd has a crush on Claire, which is hardly surprising, because she's played by Jennifer Love Hewitt. I'd have a crush on her as well, she's gorgeous! Claire is in a relationship with Dave, an abusive boyfriend who hits her.

There are regular customers who spend hours in the café every day.

A community worker uses the café as a meeting place to interview job applicants.

A drug dealer sits in a corner of the café making deals.

A young couple who met by chance in a cinema sit together every day for a coffee. He's married, but they're only talking, so they're doing nothing wrong. The love in their eyes is obvious to everyone who sees them.

Tommy is a drug addict begging the dealer for drugs even though he has difficulty paying.

There's a man with a notebook sitting by the window writing stories about the people he sees. He doesn't speak to them. By looking at their faces he knows and records their life stories.

Every film needs a hero, and "Café" is no exception. Glenn considers himself to be nothing special. He sits in the café every day with his laptop, taking advantage of the free wifi. Nobody even notices him. He's chatting online with Elly, a 13-year-old girl. Embarrassed, he turns his laptop away from the other customers so that they can't see who he's talking to. They wouldn't have noticed anyway.

But Elly has a revelation for him. She's not as young as she looks. She's God, the creator of all things, and she's been alive forever. She's using Glenn's laptop as a window to look into the world she's made. She tells Glenn that he's her greatest creation, and she has a special purpose for him. Obviously he doubts her, but she visits the café in person with one of her angels and works miracles. But why Glenn? He's 30, overweight and shy. How can he save the world when he can't save himself? Can he even save the café?

The film is full of subtle religious symbolism. I noticed the most obvious, but I wish there were a director's commentary to tell me what else I might be missing. The café represents the Garden of Eden. The only food available is fruit muffins. Elly's name is a female form of El, the Hebrew word for God. In the café there's an endless supply of coffee refills, but it can't last forever. Eventually everyone is cast out.

However much I've stared at my computer screen I've never found God. Maybe God has been looking for me, but I never recognised Her when She spoke. I'm not special enough for God to look for me. On the other hand, that's exactly what Glenn says. He considers himself unworthy of a divine revelation and hesitates in doing Elly's will. Anyone who considers himself worthy of God is unworthy. That's a fact.

Despite considering myself unworthy of seeing the face of God, I'm proud in many ways. Pride is probably my biggest sin, even though it's not apparent to those around me. Only those who read my blog know my innermost thoughts. And Elly, of course, because She sees into the hearts of men. I'm a morally complex person. I have difficulty describing myself. All I can say is that I consider myself to be the measure of all things. I judge the world and the people in it by their relationships to me. Is that justified? In my eyes it is, because I'm a better person than the people around me. But what does Elly say?

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