And betrayal is a word that's been on the tip of my tongue over the past few weeks as well, as I've come into the knowledge that one of my closest friends from college has morphed inexplicably into a full-fledged Trump-supporting Q-Anon believer. I'd been averting my eyes from the mini-quakes that were pointing towards this revelation regarding her pre-election -- just because who had the emotional strength for anything pre-election? -- but once it was safe to poke our heads out from under Our National Nightmare again I peeked back that way and found, with legitimate horror, what my friend has become.
She's all in, on toppling the election and upending Democracy, on professing a love for the hateful and homophobic Ted Cruz, on screeching anti-Trans screeds -- this was a person who went out and danced with me at the gay clubs when I first came out, held my hand when I cried about my first break-ups, and preached more than nearly anyone I knew a gospel of love and acceptance. I don't recognize my friend anymore -- two weeks ago I asked her where that girl had gone and she said, basically, good riddance.
All of this was on my mind anyway but Soderbergh's film feels deeply of this moment, this shared experience -- of a time where so many of us are being forced to look across the table, or into our pasts, and recontextualize formative, important relationships with these reams of new and boggling information. I know this is happening across the country, to thousands, hell hundreds of thousands of people, and has been for several years now. For some people it's even closer -- I can't imagine what it's been like for my friend's husband, to witness this personality transplant so very up-close.
Let All of Them Talk is about this and it isn't -- it's very funny for one thing; I don't want y'all to think you're wandering into some despairing drama. Streep, Wiest, Bergen, Lucas Hedges, Gemma Chan, these are beautiful funny charming people to ride a beautiful boat across the ocean with, and Soderbergh leans easy and clean into all of their strengths as performers. I especially loved all of his long close-ups on Hedges just listening to people -- what an expressive and curious face that actor has; watching him react felt at times like we were learning more about what was happening then we would have gotten from listening to the people doing the talking.
But for all the film's light energy there's this undercurrent of sadness and yes, betrayal, that it is thankfully never afraid of; that it leans into with the most simple and straightforward bursts of humanity, honesty. It lets them talk, yes, but the film listens -- it really truly listens. It is openly engaged with the concept of listening to someone -- hence those close-ups on Hedges -- and how what people say, what they are truly saying, affects those who listen; who truly listen. As the popular self-help rhetoric goes "communication is a two-way street," but that doesn't mean you travel back and forth over the same patch of road forever. Quite often we're picked up and carried unto places we didn't expect or want to go, and there's just simply no way back to where we came from.