Letters to Father Jacob
And when your life work is revealed as futile:
Stacks of letters arrive daily at blind Father Jacob’s house. People ask for help and he prays for them. Sometimes he does more. Father Jacob’s previous reader is now in a nursing home. So he hired the convicted murderer who was recently pardoned: Leila. But these readings, followed by Father Jacob’s out loud prayers, feel particularly pointless to Leila.
And they start to feel pointless to Father Jacob as well.
And quite possibly Father Jacob is slipping into dementia.
This 2009 Finnish film, which is beautifully photographed, has the pace you might expect of a hermit or ascetic. Not exactly slow, but each frame full of meaning. The film asks about the result of our life work. Where did that passion lead and what was the result?
Our literature of success in the United States hints that passion + patience + perseverance lead directly to success. But real life is more full of falling forward and marching backward: ups and downs that depress and invigorate. Despair swings by. Elation makes an appearance.
Letters to Father Jacob is more like real life than our success literature. And the conversations between Leila and Father Jacob reveal far more than mere words let on.
The storytelling in this film will stay with you long after the 74 minutes it takes to watch it. That is because after joy turns to sorrow you begin to see the real story threaded already in your brain.
It’s masterful stuff.
Letters to Father Jacob left me hopeful.
Image credit: IMDB