Tag: spoiler-free reviews

Movies

About Time: Learning How To Cultivate Our Time from the Ordinary Time Traveler

Pros

  • Intriguing, unique time travel story
  • Sweet father-son relationship
  • Honest, beautiful message about time itself
  • Cute and realistic romance
  • Beautiful scenery
  • References to Dickens

Cons

  • I couldn’t think of any

Note: About Time is rated R and contains swearing and sexual content/partial nudity.

On the day after Valentine’s Day, I figured I’d write about a love story that I watched recently, but not necessarily a traditional romance. It could be called a love story between a man and Charles Dickens novels, and I’m only exaggerating a little bit.

Have you ever wanted to time travel? I wish for time travel several times a week. I wish I could go back and undo some moments and particularly the socially awkward moments. I’m not sure I would undo anything major, after all, I wouldn’t want to mess with the space-time continuum or anything. Stories like this always seem to contain a major error on someone’s part.

Out of all the time travel stories I’ve heard, they usually consist of a character who messes up and undoes everything because time travel is bad. Time travel once and you will mess up the entire universe. Saving your friend from an early death will wage war with Russia. Blowing on one extra dandelion turns the world on its head. We get it, we get it, it’s a huge risk. You can’t undo that time you told the waiter to enjoy their meal too, or the time you slipped on ice and bruised your knee.

I’m currently undecided whether or not I agree that small events can change the world in such big ways–such a decision might require me to read more time-travel stores–but it is nice to see a story that isn’t so dramatic. About Time, compared to Stephen King’s 1776 for example, was a refreshing and beautiful story of a young man who learns he can travel back in time. This movie wasn’t exactly what I expected in a good way, and I was pleasantly surprised with this one.

About Time begins with the protagonist, twenty-one-year-old Tim (Domnhall Gleeson), who is awkwardly hanging out at his family’s New Year’s Eve party. Like all awkward introverted people, this party isn’t as romantic as he hopes–he fails to kiss a girl at midnight and bumps her head while everyone else seals a smooch with someone. Sounds painful for a few reasons. Luckily for Tim, he doesn’t have to live with that moment ingrained in his mind forever.

That’s right. We’re about to time travel. The next day, Tim’s father (Bill Nighy) tells him that all the men in his family have the ability to travel back–but not forward–in time. He has no idea why they can do this, but he does know that this is amazing. To time travel, all Tim has to do is stand in a dark room and make two fists. He doesn’t have to worry about being stuck in the past either; Tim can also easily travel back to real time afterward by doing the same thing.

So, what do all these men do with time travel? Well, his father says that he reads every single book he can. He is a huge Dickens fan and he reads and rereads Charles Dickens novels during his free time. Not a bad way to spend your time. I just want to say that I love his father. Having all the time in the world to read and reread books sounds like a dream; it is a pretty harmless way to use time travel yet it is brilliant. His father also has an impressive bookshelf, and he’s just a cool dude overall. I’m not sure if he is a professor or anything–but if he was, that skill would be super useful.

There are so many possibilities and I wonder if Tim even realizes how much potential time travel has for like simple stuff. He could spend the day relaxing and then go back in time and work all day. We learn later that Tim becomes a lawyer. Time Travel would be fantastic help while studying law law school. He could practically memorize all the laws and wouldn’t even miss any time studying. He could spend infinite hours growing familiarity with the material. In real time, he could hang out with friends at a pub or something. We don’t hear anything about Tim’s time in law school, but showing this could be pretty cool. I wouldn’t say it is a missed opportunity though given Tim’s goals and the story’s message. When he hears about time travel, Tim is super excited and a little overwhelmed, and he asks for his dad’s advice.

Tim’s father tells him that he should use his powers to do what he finds most important. And what Tim wants most of all is to meet the woman of his dreams and fall in love. This takes about five seconds, well, actually it happens more like six months later. We go through a time jump.

When his sister’s friend Charlotte (Margot Robbie) comes to stay with his family for two months of the summer, Tim instantly falls for her. He is too shy to reveal his feelings until the last day. She tells him that he should have said something earlier. Of course, he realizes that he doesn’t have to miss his chance. Tim can go back in time, do things right, have a great summer romance–if Charlotte has feelings for him too. Of course, life doesn’t always work out how we like.

Tim leaves the roaring hills and outdoors for the city. He wants to go into corporate life, he becomes a lawyer, and he lives with a family friend who wants to be an actor. He also meets another girl, Mary. Tim really likes Mary and he wants to do everything right–which of course might require a little time travel. The movie starts to get dramatic. It gets even more interesting when he sees Charlotte in the city and she is interested in him.

If you look at the movie cover, About Time looks like a typical love story, and it is a love story. But it doesn’t waste time with a ton of will-they-won’t-they drama. The creators let time pass and they don’t keep the protagonist stuck in his singlehood. Even though he can time travel, Tim doesn’t stay twenty-one forever. Aging is a natural part of life. This makes the story feels realistic and grounded, even with the supernatural parts. It feels like an ordinary supernaturalism.

About Time is also isn’t great because it’s a story about a couple falling in love. It is a story of the love between a father and son. His relationship with his father stuck out the most, the way they cared for each other, the way they made time for each other. Tim doesn’t ever go away and not think of home. He cares about his sister, Kit Kat (Lydia Wilson) a ton. He also loves his grandparents and his best friend.

The scenery is also very beautiful. Tim’s family lives by the lake and it is absolutely stunning. We get scenes of him and his father walking on the beach and we also get scenes of Tim with his love interest in a city apartment. We get the best of both worlds.

I liked how this story presented choices. Even a world with time travel requires Tim to make choices, and each choice has consequences. Some choices don’t have major consequences or have an exact direct correlation, but sometimes they do. One little decision can make everything different, but sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes, we end up in the same place either way.

The story also shows how we can’t make decisions for others or choose their story. Our actions can affect them, but we are ultimately responsible for our own decisions. We can only control the choices that we make. We can help others. We can support them and spend time with them. We can’t really fix their mistakes for them. We can’t, and aren’t supposed to, save other people from their decisions or change everything for them. This isn’t to say we shouldn’t help or provide a voice of reason when someone needs to hear it. But sometimes the best way to help in hard times is just to be there for someone. We see this with Tim’s family. Tim has a big heart and wants to help them, but it doesn’t always go the way he imagines.

I liked how the story felt so ordinary. This isn’t a tale of super-talented celebrities with powers, it is about a normal guy who finds out he and his dad have an ability no one else does. He just wants to enjoy life, find love, spend time with people he cares about, and learns that with great power comes great responsibility. The movie is also pretty funny. Tim is pretty socially awkward and time travel just makes things even more awkward.

Tim’s love story was very sweet. He and his love interest had great chemistry and they just fit together. I won’t say too much about the romance to avoid spoilers, but it was really sweet and genuine. The life the build together is beautiful to watch. All of the characters just had great chemistry with each other. It felt like they were really family, friends, and couples. The the music and filming of this movie make it so beautiful. The scenes were stunning and I was just blown away how much the directors, producers, and actors put into this film. The storytelling is just amazing.

It is lovely, tragic, and memorable. Even with time travel, we cannot escape time. We have to make and accept our choices and realize that to spend our time on one thing is to disregard another. In college, I’ve heard a lot about this. The story begins with Tim at twenty-one, and the world feels full of choice and hope for the future, but after that, the choices start to narrow and also open as he grows up. Each part of adulthood provides more certainty and beauty. Tim falls in love with the life that he created, and it is truly beautiful. But of course, the story deals with real life on this earth.

We don’t live forever either. Our lives are short, and we have to decide, like Tim’s father says, what is most important to us. While we have limited time, we should appreciate the time we do have and the people in it. It is a movie that makes you want to spend as much time as possible with the most important people in your life.

This movie might make you cry– it made me tear up a bit. I liked how About Time focused a little, but not too much on decision-making and Tim’s time traveling to change things. We change what we can and accept the decisions that we’ve made. Then we make the best of them and find the beauty in the little moments, in the everyday. We also never should give up, even when we mess up. With or without time travel, it is also never too late to move forward and make better decisions.

But this isn’t a huge focus of the story. After all, making choices and preventing mistakes isn’t the whole of life. Life is living with our choices, with where we are in time. For instance, we see Tim working at the law firm, which feels pretty normal. We see him working with partners in meetings and he doesn’t do any of the romanticized court stuff we usually see on TV. Work is a way to provide for himself and his family and be happy. It is great to find a job that gives you meaning, but work is in no way everything. Tim enjoys being a lawyer, but it is a very small part of the movie because there is more to life. Perhaps the film was a little romanticized. Tim’s life is pretty perfect and amazing. He does have hard times, but his day-to-day life is mostly great.

But, it is still a great movie, and it shows perhaps, humanity at our best. There is a lot we can learn from that; we can learn to hope for a great life for ourselves and for others. Time travel or not, life can be pretty great, especially with great people. I liked how this movie, above all, stressed the necessity of caring for those around us.

About Time is full of people, family and friends, who care about each other and look after each other. Their story–not romance, not time travel itself–is what makes this movie so awesome and beautiful.

Have you seen About Time or other time travel movies? Do you like them? What would you do if you could time travel? Let me know down in the comments below.

Movies

Political Satire of the Year? Don’t Look Up Spoiler-Free Review

I feel like I’ve been watching a reality show for the past 6 years. Life is dramatic and outlandish. The news feels like something from a sci-fi movie or from a teen dystopia. Reality TV is unrealistic; it asks why any rational person would act or believe the things they do. I question the notion that people really want to know the truth when I see how certain reality tv actors are; they believe their story is correct, no matter how many times the rest of the cast proves that they are wrong. What people really want is a truth that benefits their self-interest. The answer to that question is that people are inherently irrational. Our irrationality has been with us long before the pandemic and long before the movies.  

I’ve heard quite often that 2021 wasn’t the best year, though I wonder, when did we have a good year? Our world has always had irrational people and people have been satirizing life forever. The drama of the satire is pointing out the vices and flaws of society and the best satire, in my opinion, points out flaws that we can find not just in the higher-ups, but in ourselves. The best satire can call out the people who need to be called out, as well as ourselves and our complicity.  

The movie Don’t Look Up begins when Ph.D. student Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) discovers a meteor in a telescope that will crash to Earth in six months. All human life will end when the meteor hits. This is guaranteed. She and her professor, Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio), head to Washington DC to tell the President about this incoming doom. The midterm elections are coming soon, and let’s just say–this will not be good. 

Are you hooked yet? For this review, I am going to talk about both reasons to watch Don’t Look Up and some reasons the movie might not be for you. 

Reasons to Watch  

  1. Relevant Political Satire 

Don’t Look Up takes place in America and addresses the current political climate using dark humor. Don’t Look Up portrays the press, tv news, and big tech companies as utterly selfish and shallow. Light and fluffy sells, and drama make a fascinating story as long as it does not personally hurt us or challenge the comfortable ideologies and lifestyles we have settled into. We want shallowness and to feel placated, and this film shies away from nothing. The movie criticizes our selfishness, and it doesn’t just blame one group of people. The US government, owners of corporations, and media are responsible for the most damage, and they are called out rightfully. However, as the film depicts, all of America is afflicted by ignorance and self-interest, not just the higher-ups. 

The film’s president (played by Meryl Streep) is a self-centered politician who cares more about maintaining her position of power over public needs. Trump is never referenced outright, but she shares obvious similarities with him. The movie also jokes about how immoral politicians try to incorporate God, human values, and love in speeches all the while having affairs and lying out of self-interest. The film mixes exaggeration with realism well. For instance, the president wears a hat that says “Don’t Look Up” and stands behind a giant American flag. They also go to great lengths to downplay the numbers of the meteor. The president requests the scientists if she can tell the public the percentage that the meteor will hit the earth is 70% rather than nearly 100%. Lower numbers will not alarm the public before the midterm election. These jokes are based on Trump’s MAGA hat and his use of the phrase ‘” alternative facts.” It is one of those comedies where I didn’t laugh out loud a ton, but I appreciated the humor. 

The movie idea existed before the pandemic, but it bears many similarities. The movie is meant to be a metaphor for climate change, and it feels relevant to both issues. In general, science is treated the same way about both issues.

2. Realistic Portrayal of Scientists and Human Nature 

I read a few reviews online, and scientists have applauded this movie for its portrayal of their experiences. They share Randall and Kate’s frustration with the public, politicians, and media when they ignore, belittle, and undermine the research they have carefully compiled to present to them. Scientists try to tell people about climate change and vaccines, but their words are politicized, minimized, and altered in favor of answers that don’t disrupt or challenge their way of living. When a challenging but clear answer is in front of people, they take any opportunity to avoid it.  

The movie also shows how people are intuitively self-seeking. Everyone is more focused on their image over the impending end of all life. We also see tech leaders claiming the values of science, to improve life for humans and all forms of life while ignoring real scientists. 

The film also addresses human failures and accepts that some events are beyond our control. It also shows how power corrupts and we try to control the wrong things. The movie is also unapologetically tragic. Death is not romanticized and it is interesting watching what the characters choose to do on their final days.  

3. Good Acting  

Many of the characters represent ideologies, but they are people first. Kate and Randall are not perfect people, but I can empathize with them easily. They have been through the unthinkable. Meryl Streep plays an awful, self-serving president of the United States. Jonah Hill plays Jason Orlean, the president’s son: an annoying, shockingly accurate, and hilarious example of privilege and nepotism in politics.  

Some of the celebrities feel like they are randomly thrown in the film for no reason, but they were all good. Ariana Grande plays a celebrity much like herself and she adds some much-needed comic relief. She makes fun of herself and the media coverage of her, which I found fantastic. Apparently, she ad-libbed some lines too. Timothee Chalamet ended up in a pretty unexpected role, and he surprisingly adds heart to a terrifying story. 

4. Surprising Inclusion of a Christian Character and a Positive Portrayal of Faith 

I wasn’t sure how this movie would address religion, if at all, and I was surprised to find an Evangelical Christian character. Sure, they are not completely traditional, but the engagement was nice. Religion is respected by the main characters, even if they don’t agree. The movie primarily focuses on science and the importance of listening to and understanding the truth scientists discover about life, but Christianity does not always have to conflict with science. It was a small part, but I found it cool to see in a movie like this.  

A Few Things to Note 

These aren’t exactly cons, but if you’re considering watching this movie, it might be useful to be aware of these issues beforehand.  

  1. R Rating.  

The film is rated R, so that comes with some things. Don’t Look Up could easily have earned a PG-13 rating if they took out the swearing and the bit of nudity. I do think an R rating makes sense for the catastrophe and satire. The movie explores political themes and social issues in a way that wouldn’t succeed as a family film. I wouldn’t recommend the movie to anyone other than older teens and adults for the following reasons. 

Language: The film is rated R and it swears quite a bit. According to IMDB, the word “fuck” is used 42 times. Other swear words are also occasionally used. Much of the swearing takes place when the characters feel intense anger or frustration with their situation. While understandable in the context, the cursing did not do much for the film. Maybe we needed to be yelled at, but it is painful to watch. The message could have been addressed without as much language and it feels redundant at times during a big speech. If you don’t like a lot of swearing, the movie might not be enjoyable.  

Nudity: the nudity isn’t graphic and it is very brief. The film includes back nudity and partial frontal nudity. Overall, I wouldn’t say that nudity is necessary to tell the story; it is kind of just thrown in there.  

2. One-dimensional portrayal of people who disagree 

The public was all oblivious and ignorant to the events of the world around them. Despite the threat of all human life, no one cared except the scientist characters. People only listened when the politicians and celebrities told them to care either in support of or against evidence that the meteor was going to kill them. People who support Trump-like politicians and their policies were utterly one-dimensional. That is to be expected in satire, of course. I do think if the film is trying to convince people of a message, it excludes some people. If this is something that bothers you, I wouldn’t recommend this movie. Most of the focus is on the higher-ups, and the public is merged into one. The movie requires us to know how to laugh at ourselves, and if you don’t mind satire, it shouldn’t be a problem.  

3. American-Centric 

I suppose this was the point, but for an event like this, there’s no way other countries would not get involved. There are brief snippets of scenes from other countries, but they don’t really land well. The snippets felt like something the film had to include instead of an attempt at diversity. I was disappointed that the movie did not address the world as a whole, especially since everyone is going to die. Seeing how foreign relations interact with each other and understanding the meteor could have been fascinating. The film is very concerned with the USA, but the message and criticism of political power and media can apply everywhere. The focus on the US isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The movie wanted to focus on satirizing America in particular, and specific satire is better than general. I just wish the rest of the world’s response was included a little more. The United States of America, thankfully, is not responsible for the entire world and it would have felt more real if they said that.  

Overall thoughts  

I enjoyed this movie. I wouldn’t call it a powerful piece that will stay with us forever, nor is it the best film I’ve seen this year. It was engaging, but not laugh-out-loud hilarious. The message was a good one, and  It tried to mix satire and some inspiration, and it kind of works. I’m glad I watched it. I enjoyed watching actors I like and checking out a genre I don’t typically watch, and it is pretty good. Even with the few things I mentioned, I would recommend this movie and it is not 2+ hours I regret spending on Netflix. 

I wouldn’t make it out to be more than it is. It can be enjoyed regardless of political viewpoint. The movie points out the importance of science and calls people out through comedy and slight exaggeration. If you appreciate dark comedy, you should enjoy this film. It is a satire, but it also was pretty heartwarming. The movie made me want to be more aware of the world around me and take steps to help, but it wasn’t something that will change the world. It also isn’t too cynical. Though the movie was sad, I didn’t feel worse about the world than I already do. We are entering a new year. There is time to do good and spread awareness and learn about climate change, injustice, poverty, and find ways to help others. Maybe I’m being idealistic, but the movie seems to inspire hope rather than anything. We can listen, we can learn, and we can do better. We can ask more of our leaders and ourselves. 

Don’t Look Up is so similar to the political sphere, but it felt oddly comforting rather than distressing. The film never minimizes the horrors of what is happening to the audience. The humor balances well. 

If you like any of the actors, I think you will like this film. The cast plays roles that fit them perfectly. Don’t Look Up is bleak but its satire of celebrities, politicians, and social media help distract us from the tragedy. I would recommend it if you’re in the mood for a dramatic film that addresses the age, we live in. I also found the movie a little long, it is a little less than two and a half hours, and it seemed longer than it needed to be. It is still worth watching. They drag at parts, but so does life. Back during COVID, I remember waiting all afternoon for an email from our college president detailing whether or not we would go home. Sometimes, even in movies, it’s good to show the slowness, the anxiety of waiting and not knowing. Also, the ending is good, so watch the whole thing. 

Have you seen or heard of Don’t Look Up? What do you think? Let me know down in the comments below! 

Check out my Spoiler Review!

Also, after you’ve watched the movie, check out my spoiler review! I’m going to be discussing criticisms that I didn’t mention here, including surprising things I enjoyed and analyzing the character development and the overall message.  

Books

It’s Not All Misogyny: 7 Reasons to Read The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway: A Spoiler Free Review

It’s Not All Misogyny: 7 Reasons to Read The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway: A Spoiler Free Review

Intro

The Sun Also Rises was published by Ernest Hemingway. I read this novel in my 20th Century Novel Class. I enjoyed this book, but there are some flaws. I’m going to aim for as few spoilers as possible in this review. The novel is about Jake Barnes, who travels with some friends to the Fiesta de San Fermin in Spain after World War 2. While he visits the Spanish Countryside and watches the bullfighting competition, Jake struggles with a war injury and post-war delusion as he tries to find a code to live by. It is a beautiful novel.

I looked at reviews for this article on Goodreads and I was disappointed. The novel is not just a book about a bunch of guys who chase an idealized woman. The novel is much more than that, and I am going to defend it, and Brett as a character as well.

The novel does have some problematic elements, Robert Cohn is a Jewish character who Hemingway stereotypes. He is the only Jewish character, but he is portrayed as annoying and he is mocked by all the other characters. Brett is also sexualized and treated as an object by many of the male characters, but it is realistic of the time she lived in. If we look past Jake’s perception of her, she is more complex than he gives her credit for. Cohn, unfortunately, is not treated with as much understanding, but he is pitied at least. Upon acknowledging these problems, the novel is worth reading and appreciating for the good elements. My review mostly talks about the good, but first, we will talk about alcohol.

The characters drink an absurd amount of alcohol. The characters drink every few pages and it is pretty concerning. If they are drunk the entire book, I’m not surprised considering the decisions they make. I feel like it is easy to say the book is full of people who drink all the time, but it is more than that. The characters want to numb the pain of the war and of the lives they live. They long for something greater but make awful decisions along the way. For a book with people who are always drinking, there is plenty of beautiful descriptions of nature and the atmosphere around them.

  1. Unusual Male Protagonist

Jake was wounded in the war and is impotent. I hadn’t read a book with a male protagonist in Jake’s situation before and I was surprised it was included. Jake lives a full life and maintains good friendships. Hemingway is an author who seems concerned with masculinity, so it was nice to see that Jake is never less of a man or person because he doesn’t have sex. Sex and romance bring drama for everyone who is in a relationship in this novel.

Jake, like many of Hemingway’s protagonists, was in the war. The novel deals with the post-war delusion and in a modernist novel fashion, he shows the ways we try to explain and ignore the events that happened to us. Hemingway was also famous for his “iceberg principle.” He was notorious for cutting out any bit of unnecessary information. There is so much information under the surface of conversations and thoughts that Hemingway doesn’t state. Many of these people feel broken and are looking for relief as well as a code to explain the world around them. We see all this in Jake, he isn’t idealized or perfected, no one is, and he screws up. He has to live with his choices just like all the characters do.

2. Spanish Bullfighting and Culture

I have never been to Spain or traveled to the Fiesta De San Fermin, but Hemingway made it feel like I had a ticket. Hemingway traveled all the time, and in his lifetime, he made more than 20 trips to Spain. He captures an outsider’s perspective of Spanish culture during this festival. He describes the beauty, excitement, and sadness in the event. Romero is a major bullfighter in the novel and he is beautiful. Hemingway saw bullfighting as a sacred experience that requires a deep connection between the bull and the bullfighter. From what I have heard about horseback riding, it is similar.

There is also a contrast with culture. The tourists are focused on having fun and drinking the day away and it feels like a constant party but not a good one. The descriptions of bullfighting and Spanish culture reveal a code of living that Hemingway deeply admires. Pay attention to his descriptions of bullfighting. They are where Hemingway shines.

3. Brett is the new woman

The only main female character in the novel is Lady Brett Ashley. At the time of the novel, she was The New Woman. She was a common trope and ideal for a woman after the war. She rejects the ideals of the chaste, Victorian woman. She is a woman who drinks, who smokes, who hangs out with the dudes. She outdoes all the men; she is one of the boys. All the guys want to date her. The male protagonist pines after her. Another guy even fights for her honor. Her boyfriend doesn’t care much for her and treats her poorly. She could simply be a male fantasy, but if you take a minute and look at her outside the male perspective–you might realize the guys are missing something. Although she is written under the male gaze, Jake once describes her as a motorboat, her character is more than she appears.

Lady Brett Ashley is a woman who is aware of what people think of her. She knows what she’s doing and she’s not as confident as we think. She is her own harshest critic. We see the facade of Brett, but the flashes we see are of someone with insecurities and doubts. She wonders about going to confession and feels anxious when she goes to a church. She is real, whether anyone notices or not. Though she is breaking societal roles, her role in the world is one that has been created for men. The men enjoy her personality as is, she doesn’t challenge or make them change in any way. She has to realize if this is someone she really wants to be and if so, she should break bad habits and unhealthy cycles.

4. Stunning Landscape

The descriptions of the Spanish countryside in The Sun Also Rises are gorgeous. Bill and Jake look out the window on the way there and well, here’s a quote:

“We all got in the car and it started up the white dusty road into Spain. For a while the country was much as it had been; then, climbing all the time, we crossed the top of a Col, the road winding back and forth on itself, and then it was really Spain. There were long brown mountains and a few pines and far-off forests of beech-trees on some of the mountainsides. The road went along the summit of the Col and then dropped down, and the driver had to honk, and slow up, and turn out to avoid running into two donkeys that were sleeping in the road. We came down out of the mountains and through an oak forest, and there were white cattle grazing in the forest. Down below there were grassy plains and clear streams, and then we crossed a stream and went through a gloomy little village, and started to climb again. We climbed up and up and crossed another high Col and turned along with it, and the road ran down to the right, and we saw a whole new range of mountains off to the south, all brown and baked-looking and furrowed in strange shapes.”

5. Sweet Portrayal of Male Friendship

Bill is another charming side character. He is a friend of Jake’s and he’s the only one who doesn’t pine after Brett. He is funny and a good friend to Jake. They go fishing together and have fun and it is nice to watch. They play off each other well, and though they are quite different, the two get along. It was nice to have a break from some of the more dramatic scenes.

6. Engagement with Catholicism

The novel takes place in a time where there is much misunderstanding between Catholics and Protestants and by in a time, I mean all times. The confusion has always been there. Always. Jake is a Catholic, but he is a bit of a lapsed Catholic. The modernist era includes a doubt in traditional religion, and Jake’s relationship with the church feels unusual. His doubts aren’t strong, but the post-war world he lives in and the people he surrounds himself with do not value growing or understanding faith in any meaningful way. But he still attends church and participates in Catholic traditions. Jake feels simultaneously connected with and disconnected with the rites and experiences of church. His relationship with religion feels real. The church isn’t a huge topic of discussion or major plot point, but it is layered throughout the story. That’s part of why I love Hemingway. He touches on issues with subtlety, and if you blink you will miss them, but they are so rich.

The title is also a reference to Ecclesiastes, and the words fit the novel well. The beauty of a rising sun also fits with the beauty of the material world.

7. The Difficulty of Redemption, Forgiveness, and Understanding Each Other

There were times where I felt let down. I felt both connected to and disconnected from Jake’s narration. He is an imperfect narrator, Hemingway sees things that Jake doesn’t see. If we look we can see cracks. That is part of the beauty of this novel. So many characters have obvious seeming faults, but when we look inside, they are not as obvious and easily solvable. Jake’s relationship with Brett is complicated. They are attracted but can’t ever be together. Jake knows Brett and he doesn’t know Brett. They have an understanding, but both feel misunderstood and alone. I found their entire dynamic fascinating, toxic at times, astounding. Falling in love or love isn’t a universal perfect good.

Conclusion

As I said, Hemingway provides no simple solution. The world these characters live in is not understanding of their struggles. Forgiveness can be limited, redemption can be conditional. The novel asks what it takes to make us choose to change. Mostly, we don’t want to or ignore the need to. The novel captures that temptation well. The Sun Also Rises also shows us good things, the landscape, nature, food, and comradery. The simple speech provides a complex narrative and hints at depth under the surface. Hemingway describes bullfighting beautifully; I feel like I had seats to the bullfight with Jake, Brett, Mike, Cohn, and Bill.

I also liked how traveling wasn’t the end-all-be-all to this series. Travel isn’t an escape to make our lives better, and it isn’t going to make you someone better than you are. It certainly does change you, and this is partly what the novel is about.

I would recommend this novel to any adult or young adult. The Sun Also Rises took me on a trip and back home again. All of these characters are looking for a code, and Jake’s journey and the ending are satisfying. It is beautiful but also broken at times.

Have you read The Sun Also Rises or any Hemingway novels? What did you think? Let me know down in the comments below!