Archive for September, 2011


The Setting Sun

by mdjb

Tom Cruise is visiting his parents who have recently embarked on a stay at an exclusive Upper East Side town house type nursing home. They are showing him its features and vast layout. It’s almost time for dinner.
They introduce him to some of their kooky new friends, moneyed people who dress oddly and behave a bit bizarre.
He starts to wonder if he could feel secure with himself leaving his parents here. Although the place appears sumptuous, Tom doesn’t think his parents are near as ‘gone’ as he sees the other ‘inmates’.
Taking a cigarette break outside, he meets Jennifer Jason Leigh, who has come to visit her parents. They are attracted to each other but she makes a snide remark about his jacket, says her father has one just like it. She enters the house and he soon follows, only to be waylaid by the snooty director, who says she hopes he is not planning to wear his jeans into the dining room. Tom flashes back on an ancient gentleman he saw wearing jeans and a woman who was wearing a denim skirt, but the director explains that that was Mr and Mrs Dennehy and says they have a special dispensation. She hints that dressing that way has improved their sex life. Sex life, Tom thinks, why they were likely in their eighties!
Afterward, Tom is in a pair of brown pants and is being shown a medallion by one of the inmates, who drops it and it rolls under a buffet table. The old man immediately drops to his knees and crawls under the table to look for it. As Tom gets down to help him, fearing the old codger might hurt himself, he notices the man is wearing green socks, one lighter than the other. Someone has dropped a dollop of mousse, which the old guy somehow avoids, but Tom, forging ahead, gets it all over his pants. However, he does retrieve the medallion.
Seeing his clothes soiled, Tom is upset and sees it as the fault of the establishment. After all, in such a ritzy place, why didn’t someone clean up the mousse?
The tailor/valet, Charlton Heston, steps forward and offers to take care of Tom’s pants. He says he has a pair that will look better. They just need a nip and a tuck. He also suggests lending a jacket which is not quite so out of fashion.
In fitting Tom for the pants, it becomes obvious by the tailor’s movements and touches that he is an old queen, albeit a nice person with wisdom, who explains obliquely why the place works – how it fulfills the needs of its inmates, who have arrived at a place in their lives, where, to stay in an average standard nursing home would seem like defeat. This place is voluntary and basically designed by the inmates themselves. “They’re happy here,” he says in a sad sort of way.
Later, Tom and Charlton are taking a cigarette break together and Jennifer passes again. This time she is all sweetness, having visited her parents and seen that they were comfortable and happy.
“I like your jacket,” she says.
“My father lent me the other,” he says, “And he told me he bought it from a friend. You know, I think it might have been your father’s originally.”
“They try so hard,” they both say at the same time.
A woman about to come up the steps of the brownstone, and seeing old Charlton with the two younger people, asks if there are any vacancies in the place. She seems like the wrong type of client, the type that would abandon an ailing parent.
“You’ll have to check later. They’re all sun-bathing at the moment,” Charlton says.
The woman glances up at the setting sun, steals a look at her watch, and in a huff, walks away.