The Terminal

Recommended, but not highly. There is just something magical about Tom Hanks to me that makes everything he does so appealing as the everyman. Which is why, if this was some other star in the movie, I would have considered it somewhat plodding. This is a story, about a traveler, Viktor Navorsky, from a small Eastern European country who is stranded at JFK airport because his country erupts in civil war which makes it cease to have national status, and therefore places Viktor unable to enter the United States or to fly home because of legal technicalities with international passport laws. He is a man without a country. He then ends up living in the Terminal for almost a year, while the head of security, played by Stanley Tucci relentlessly hounds him as the antagonist. And of course, Viktor falls in love with a stewardess, played by Catherine Zeta-Jones. Viktor’s cute little anecdotal experiences with some of the airport personal make for some humorous, if not very believable, episodes. The themes behind this film center around waiting for life to happen versus making your life through your choices. Not bad. The stewardess is a woman who can’t extricate herself from an adulterous relationship with a married man, because she keeps foolishly hoping against hope that he will divorce his wife. Men can be pigs – but boy, women can be stupid. Of course, he won’t leave his wife, and she wastes her life waiting. Until she meets Viktor, who loves her for who she is and treats her with the respect she needs. One of the cool things I liked about this film was its unusual point about character. The stewardess never can give up her hope for the married man. She keeps going back to him, and therefore loses Viktor in the end. Viktor moves on when his country is back together. It is a bittersweet ending, but a good one. Viktor is too good for this woman, and we see that the romantic emotions of love are not the highest value, but character is. Very unusual for a romantic comedy for the boy NOT to get the girl. But another cool thread carries the film, that of grace, and loving the unlovable. Of course, the airport personnel are quirky characters. Anyway, when the security head discovers that several of the airport personnel are good friends of Viktor, and that they each have reasons to be fired, he uses this against Viktor to try to get him to go home rather than stay in New York and achieve his ambition of fulfilling his father’s dream of getting a famous Jazz singer’s autograph. If Viktor does not go home on the next plane, the security head will fire these guys and deport one of them back to India where he awaits charges of assault and battery. The Indian guy, with the name Gupta, was a fugitive from his own country. And Viktor became one of his only friends. Viktor sacrifices his dream to protect his friends. But when Gupta finds out about this, he basically turns himself in to the police with a diversion and allows Viktor to go and get his father’s dream autograph. Gupta gets himself deported. Now the security man cannot stop Viktor cause he has nothing over him. It’s a perfect picture of grace. Gupta is shown grace by Viktor’s sacrifice, the innocent for the guilty, so Gupta responds with repentance and accepts his own responsibility for his past actions. Very powerful grace and atonement theme. Those who respond to grace (Gupta) find redemption, and those who do not (Stewardess) continue on in miserable lives.