It’s a Neighborly Day in the Beautywood

At the urging of a friend, Tracy and I went to see A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood last night. This movie is actually not a biopic about Fred Rogers. It is more about an Esquire reporter, identified with the pseudonym Lloyd Vogel in the movie, assigned to write the biography of Fred Rogers for an issue of the magazine. Lloyd is filled with anger toward his father. The movie is really about that reporter’s struggle with his anger, and how Fred Rogers helped him get past that crippling anger. It is a movie about forgiveness, grace, and mercy. It is about us. I show the interplay between these concepts in the Venn diagram below.

I believe these concepts are necessary aspects of love as a verb. If we cannot do these things, then I don’t know that we can truly love one another. That leaves us just with anger.

During a scene in which Fred and Lloyd are continuing the interview in a restaurant, Fred asks Lloyd if he’d do an exercise with him: sit in silence for one minute and think about those who have “loved you into being.”  He resists, but Fred proceeds anyway. As all other patrons and Lloyd fall silent, the camera moves subtly so that Tom Hanks is looking directly into the camera, breaking the fourth wall between actor and viewer, thus inviting viewers into the exercise. We could all benefit from doing this and letting go of our anger towards one another.

I leave you with two songs. The first is one of mine and about a character seeking forgiveness. The other is a Mary Gauthier song, Mercy Now. We could all use a littler mercy now.

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