Reaching for the Moon

Posted on 16 April 2014

A few weeks ago, when I browsed through the film selections for the Cleveland International Film Fest, I stopped at the entry for Reaching for the Moon. I didn’t know much of anything about the director, and I hadn’t read any reviews or even viewed the trailer, but I already knew I’d buy a ticket — all because the movie is about Elizabeth Bishop.

Considering my short story, “To Elizabeth Bishop, with Love,” (published in Inkwell and part of Living Arrangements), it should be no secret that I’m an Elizabeth Bishop fan and am interested in her biography. So that’s how I came to sit alone in a theater in downtown Cleveland on a Sunday morning, all during my precious time off from school, to watch Elizabeth come to life on the screen.

The film is not without its faults. A predictable framing structure and some melodrama take away from some of the fine performances by the leading ladies. Even so, I was glad to sit for a few hours immersed in Bishop’s life and love and take in her lines like, “Me? When I hear my own poetry, I’m mortified” and “This is why you shouldn’t meet authors” and “I have always felt alien” and “I already have a commitment to pessimism. A pessimist is never disappointed.” Then there’s Elizabeth’s restraint and social awkwardness, and the fact that she’s more comfortable making friends with a cat than conversation with her hosts. Doesn’t sound like anyone around here at all, right?

In any case, the film is based on the Brazilian novel Rare and Commonplace Flowers, a book I have officially added to my reading list.

So tell me: What mortifies you?



1 Response to Reaching for the Moon

  • Averil says:

    A friend of mine recently read aloud one of the sexy scenes in ALICE, and I was so mortified that I started laughing uncontrollably at the horror of it all. Some things should only be read in the privacy of one’s head.

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