Ode to Joy
Can you imagine what it would be like to have a rare neurological condition, that makes you fall asleep (basically faint) whenever you experience happiness? What would happen if you met the love of your life only to find that you can’t be with them simply because they make you too happy.
So begins the premise in the romantic comedy Ode To Joy (2019), starring Martin Freeman (Charlie) and Morena Baccarin (Francesca). Here in the film we follow Charlie as he attempts to live a life simply and quietly without experiencing too much happiness. The problem for our protagonist however is that he sees joy everywhere.
He sees it in little puppies. He sees it his sister finding the love of her life. He sees it in the very simple act of a mother taking care of her child. All of this puts Charlie fast asleep, and so in order to protect himself and others, Charlie focuses on the more harsher side of life like: disease, war, and death.
It is such an odd story! But it’s a story I think we all can share in. Charlie lives his disease as though it were a curse, and not in fact the reason why he is so in tune with the beautiful things around him. For example, because Charlie embraces the sadder parts of life, he can easily empathize with Francesca who is suffering with the loss of her aunt.
Because Charlie remains calm and sober (so as to avoid powerful emotions), he can handle well the passion and energy that Francesca and his older brother express. What’s more, Charlie’s condition, far from making him bitter, has seemed to turned the protagonist into a gentle loving soul. If we are honest with ourselves, do not our weaknesses do the same?
Charlie then seems to be called to accept himself as he is. That is, he is invited to no longer allow his condition to be a reason for why he is not pursuing his dreams of living a truly fulfilling life. In the end, Charlie will find that he can find happiness not in spite of his weaknesses, but rather as a result of them. It is so strange to see then to see that Charlie’s condition is not so rare after all. In fact, I think it’s one that we all share in.
Ode to Joy is available on Netflix.