Name that movie?.. self-absorbed protagonist learns to listen
May 11, 2023 1:18 AM   Subscribe

It's the story of a guy, whose life and conversations always revolve around him and all his problems. His wife has just left him. He doesn't seem to have many real friends. But then he meets someone who teaches him to listen.

It was probably in English, but I also watched so many movies with sub-titles that year I can't be sure. My next guess would have been in German, but I don't remember.

I know I watched this movie at an independent movie theatre (Cinema Paradiso, down in Wanaka, Aotearoa New Zealand), in 1996. So the movie was either likely released that that year, or probably not that long before.

The protagonist meets someone likely begging on the street. So the protagonist buys him some food at a nearby bar, and just keeps talking at him about all his own life challenges.

The beggar type person just eats and listens. Seemingly this is the first person that's actively listened to the protagonists for a while, and the protagonist likes it, keeps talking constantly, and keeps passing him food and thinking nothing of paying the tab when they're done.

They end up meeting up again, (possibly at the same location they met the first time). The beggar person keeps listening, the protagonist keeps buying him more food I guess. Eventually the person takes the protagonist back to his own house and meets his family, possibly in some sort of government housing block?

The listener's elderly grandmother is bed-bound, but considered very wise by the family, and the person convinces the protagonist to go and hear of his grandmother's sage wisdom, alone.

She whispers something in the protagonist's ear (you don't hear what is said), but the protagonist leaves the grandmother's room, and instead of being completely self-absorbed as typical, he starts actively watching and listening to the people around him in that house.

He then remembers his mother had asked him to check on her own apartment weeks ago, as she's away for a while and she thinks she'd left a sandwich on the counter before she left, so didn't want to get mouldy/ants, perhaps.

He has a key, lets himself in, can't find a sandwich on the counter (all seems clean) so instead he calls his mum by phone from the apartment, mentions the lack of sandwich and sorry for not getting there sooner, and asks how she's doing... apparently this is the first time in years that he's ever asked her anything about herself.

He sits on the couch and has a deep and meaningful conversation with his mum, genuinely engaged in a proper conversation with her for the first time in a very long time.

After a while, the conversation comes a natural end end, he puts the phone down, feeling pretty emotional. Then his wife appears, who'd been hiding in his mum's house all this time, and also listening to the conversation.

You get the impression she's probably been staying at that house since separating from the protagonist, and that was why his mum had asked him to go and visit the house, but he'd been too self-absorbed until now to really remember or do anything about it.

The protagonist's partner seemed moved by the conversation with his mum.

The movie ends likely ends with the indication some of the burnt bridges with his wife are now being rebuilt between them... fade to credits.

Or something resembling that storyline anyway.

My various search engine attempts have failed in being way too vague in a description to be able to find it.
posted by many-things to Media & Arts 13 users marked this as a favorite
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