Road To Perdition
I live in a village called Bridge of Allan, and if you like renting movies and watching them, let me tell you: don't live in Bridge of Allan. The only place to rent is at the local convenience store, which stocks a meagre selection of the most godawful current releases you can imagine. Anyway, somehow I found Road to Perdition amongst the mix and scooped it up.
Road to Perdition stars Tom Hanks as a hitman for the Irish mafia in Depression-era America. He and his son undergo a tragedy which transforms them both. The movie is mostly about the relationship between fathers and sons, but there are many other issues bubbling underneath, like the theme of work.
Jude Law plays another hitman, who asks questions like "you ever seen a dead body? Terrible thing. But it sure makes you feel alive, don't it?" and "to be paid to do what you love--isn't that the dream?" Neither of these questions is earth-shattering, but for some reason they stood out for me as I watched the film. Nowadays most of us don't have to confront death very often; but if we did, we might try harder to make the most of life while we're alive.
Which leads us to the second question: shouldn't we try, as much as we can, to live working at something we love? Sure, I suppose, but the trouble is, how do we know what we love? It's the minority who can confidently say they were put on earth to do (insert singular life passion here). For everyone else, it can be a very frustrating search. Back in the Depression era, this wasn't as much of an issue, because you would probably be thankful for finding any kind of work. But for an affluent generation like mine, where you've been afforded every opportunity to choose a career that you find personally fulfilling, the pressure is on to eschew mediocrity and discover your niche.
All of this begs the question of whether or not it is, in fact, "the dream" to get paid doing what you love. In fact, if taken to its logical extreme, this goal ends up reducing your life's worth to your career choice. Which is a bit silly, because you might be a much happier person working a low-stress 9-5 gig that allows you to lead a much happier existence; getting paid to do what you love could actually become harmful, as you increasingly guage the value of your life based on how many hours you put into your "dream job," whether that be an assassin-for-hire or, dare I say it, a music scholar. Is this a healthy way to live?
Anyway, Road to Perdition is about lots of other things besides work, but these days I've got work on the brain. Speaking of which, I'd better get back to it.
Posted by matt at March 28, 2005 02:20 PM