'Joshy' and the Sidelining Effect of Anger and Grief
I don’t know what I was expecting with Joshy. I knew I loved the cast. I knew that it was being marketed as a comedy but was actually quite dark and sad. I figured I’d like it OK. Just OK.
I didn’t know that it would punch me in the very center of something I’ve been dealing with for years, open a wound and leave me there to sit in it for days later.
This isn’t necessarily a review of the movie. The movie itself is enjoyable enough, with lovely performances from Alex Ross Perry, Adam Pally, Nick Kroll, Brett Gelman and Jenny Slate, a confusingly brief cameo from Lauren Graham, similarly brief appearances from Joe Swanberg and Jake Johnson, a fun bit from Aubrey Plaza, and out-of-the-park incredible work from Thomas Middleditch as the titular Joshy. And that work is what got me. And to explain why, I need to spoil the film.
In the first scene of the movie, Joshy’s fiancee Rachel (Alison Brie) kills herself on his birthday, hanging herself with his belt. The rest of the film takes place four months later when his friends still opt to have their Ojai “bachelor party” weekend because they’d already put the deposit on the rental house. His friends have different ideas of how to get Joshy through this weekend—one just wants to quietly play board games, some want to drink and snort the days away and none of them really know what to say about what happened four months earlier. Including Joshy. Who’s trying to be fine until the end of the movie when he cannot be and is not and has not been fine.
In this moment, the film shines a light on the darkest, worst part of being the one left behind by a partner, in one way or another, either from suicide or addiction or any of the other cruel terrible ways your life can be destroyed without your involvement.
“I guess I’m, just, I’m tired of her…It’s about her. And it’s been about her. And I guess, I don’t know, you know what, I’m a little tired of it. She checks out, and I have to fucking deal with it and I have to deal with missing her and fucking feeling real fucking sad…So that’s what I’m left with. And I’m even sorry now, now I’m dragging you guys in. I’m pulling you guys into this shit, and you have your own lives and everybody has their own problems and now you have to look at me do this. It’s so fucking weird. It’s so weird. It’s so stupid. I’m so fucking mad at her. I’m so mad at her.”
This is what it was like. This is what it was like to be the one who was sober. To be the one who had to live through it and survive and go on because this other person couldn’t or can’t. To live an entire existence for years and beyond where your life isn’t about you. You have to pick up the pieces of another broken human, and carry those pieces with you even though it all shattered you, too.
And how do you explain that to your friends? Even your best friends, the most important people in your world, it’s impossible to put this weight on them. You don’t even know how to tell the story because it isn’t your story. You’re a side effect. And how can you admit to anyone, especially yourself, how selfish you are? How can you admit that you have any kind of negative feeling toward this person, this person you love, who is in so much pain and is so sick, who can’t help this? How dare you make this about you. How dare you be angry at them.
And you are angry. You’re so fucking angry about it all. Because you didn’t do this. You didn’t want this. And you couldn’t stop it, control it, anything. You were just along for the ride and now you’re here in this, this whatever this is. And you can’t get out.
My person, my Rachel may have lived. He’s sober now. Thriving. But I’m still living in that moment. A life lived following this crumbling human, trying desperately to gather the dust and particles and keep everything whole while my own legs crumbled beneath me. In this mess, I lost myself. I lost my dreams. I lost my goals. I lost chances. I lost me. And I’m still lost. I don’t know when I’ll be found.
And sometimes you forget about it and you feel OK. You feel whole. You go to therapy and you take the medicine and you do what it takes to be as put together as you can be. But then all it takes is an OnDemand rental about a bachelor party with actors you like. And you need one hell of a broom.
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