"Be With Me", My Beloved... Just Be Love

Dharma Inspire Movie Review by Shen Shi'an, The Buddhist Channel, Sept 22, 2005

Be With Me

Singapore -- First of all, some impressive trivia to invite you to read on... "Be With Me" was the 37th Selection Directors' Fortnight's opening film at the 58th Cannes Film Festival. And it received a five-minute standing ovation during its premiere at the Directors' Fortnight at Cannes. With many grown men touched and tearing away at its screenings, "Be With Me" is about various relationships - kinship, friendship and love - of how they intertwine through love and loss.

A social worker was so engrossed in unconditionally helping others that he almost forgets his own widower father, who in turn could not forget his deceased wife, who in turn lingers as a ghost, worried about her bereaved moping husband. He helps a blind and deaf woman, who does her best to help herself, and others too - as she imparts skills and confidence to blind children. She reminds him to visit his father. Sharing her autobiography with his father, who in it finds inspiration and renewed purpose of life, he offers thanks in only way he could - by cooking dishes for her, which she greatly relished. Prior to that, he had lived life as a "wandering spirit" himself, aimless, drifting, pining for his love lost. Seeing him having found normality in life, his wife's spirit leaves. Will you readily leave in silence when your time is up? What will haunt you? What will you haunt? Only when we leave peacefully can we leave no worries for the ones we love. Only when we peacefully let go those we have to can we free our love.

In a linked story, an obese man gets infatuated with a girl. Worlds apart in the social status and the looks department, he dreams of being with her, unconfident of how to express his feelings. Admiring his "forbidden fruit" only from a distance, his joy was to see her beautiful and happy. Literally starved for love while in a loveless family, and with seemingly no higher purpose than to win her heart, he indulges in food escapades like a "hungry ghost" of sorts to forget his blues, as he hungers for her company, with his longing eating him up inside. Finding fulfilment in love is lovely, but finding self-fulfilment in one's spirituality is even more so - because the first in conditioned by others while the latter only by oneself. Perhaps we all need to learn to enjoy aloneness instead of suffer loneliness - for that was how we came and how we will eventually go.

Yet he is kind in his small ways, unlike his brother, who was supposedly more "successful" career-wise, though unfeeling to his own brother's misfortunes, which he neither sees nor cares. It is worth reflecting who is truly more "successful" as a human being. As we watch the near impossible pursuit of his love, we wonder what he has to offer. Perhaps only his love. Perhaps that is already enough? What more do we want him to give? What more can he give? We never know, as he dies abruptly in a freak accident, on his way to deliver the sentiments of his love in a letter. Perhaps, out of love, there is sometimes no need to tell another you love him or her? True love is unconcerned about recognition? But even so, we should, in gratitude, recognise the true love showered by others.

In another story, first "meeting" via online chatting and phone-mesaging before in person, a girl develops true feelings for another, who only had a passing crush on her. With perhaps sometimes typical teenage insensitivity and uncertainty, their relationship devolves to one-way unanswered phone-messaging, before the unrequitted one attempts to end her life in broken-heartedness. Communication is the lifeblood of love! In fact, it pumps life into all forms of relationships. With no honest personal communication, how can love live or grow? But then again, let us learn not to merely seek love, but to simply love - without expectations or regrets. Freeing your love and giving it freely is true love, wonderful already as it is. When love's selfless giving attracts love, let's treasure it as a bonus, instead of a right. Why so? Lest one clings on and has one's heart shattered later.

The story of blind and deaf woman (Theresa Chan) is based on her real life. Living alone, she had long lost her lover, but not her love. Perhaps the best actor is she who played herself, as she exemplified unpretentious compassion and dignity instead of quiet desperation. But most of all, because we know her story is remarkable and true. Is it not ironic, that while being praised for her role in the film, she can neither see or hear it? We suspect she will be content!

Almost a poignant silent movie with no high dramatic performances, "Be With Me" is a thoughfully paced heartrending yet heartwarming study - of how love and lovelessness makes and breaks us. But most of all, it sings of hope, of how love and loving makes life worth living. So what if one is both blind and deaf? We can still feel and give love. Love will connect us all - beyond sight and sound, beyond the senses. Love is from a heart to another heart - to be heartfelt. It is what makes us truly human, truly humane.

Nursing a broken heart? Is love ever lost, unless you let it die? As Theresa said, "Love disappears only when you do not understand what it means." You might not be loved the way you wish, but you can always love the way you want. Being loving, even when love is not attracted from without, love is already there within. If so, perhaps our greatest quest, like the Bodhisattvas' unending perfect compassion for all, is not for seeking love from others, but to seek others to love... more and more... till our love pervades the world. Our most beautiful mission must be not to find perfect love, but to perfect love. What can be more lovely than us all perfecting our love for each other? Hold my hand. Be with me, my love... we don't always have to be lovers... let us just be love.