It is about separation and loss; the futile quest for permanence. It is about what endures. It is personal and direct; it is suggestive, poetic. It is about death.
We can only watch, as the father tells his son that he is dying from an incurable disease. Proud and powerful, the boy's lifelong, bedrock security is passing.
The son cries inconsolably. And it not the encapsulated crying we are hardened to on television. It is real world, real time, unrelenting sobbing. The son experiences this as a plastic bubble over his head, pulled tighter and tighter. There is no hope, no release, no escape.
It is hard to be an intimate witness. We squirm and cough. What can anyone say? What felt like it would endure forever will soon be gone. There are no words to break this tension. It continues and builds.
Finally, there is some small degree of comfort. Soothing words, reassurance. I will be here for you, child, I will provide, endure.
And finally, finally, through tear-filled eyes, the boy indicates that he understands. He hears the father; it will be all right. Something of the father will be there, always there, for the son.
This is not a son's bus station hug before college; nor is it a father and daughter's bittersweet dance at her wedding. This is neither temporary nor symbolic.
This is not your father's Oldsmobile. This is your father's death.
No it's not.
This is an advertisement for your father's death brought to you by the Incurable Disease Division of the John Hancock Insurance Company; a polished morality play with its hand in our pockets.
And what is the moral? What is to save us from this unrelenting sorrow? What remains, what endures of our love?
"An insurance policy," quoth the ravenous, nothing more.
Where are Beavis and Butt-head when you need them?
* * * *
In real life, as it happens, the fellow playing the father is indeed dying——but of a curable disease. And there is an expensive treatment that might save his life.
But his insurance company won't pay for it.
"Where's my wife and family? What if I die here. Who'll be my role model, now that my role model is gone, gone, gone..."