There is a man on my commute who walks the median of a busy intersection, holding out a paper bucket for contributions. His need is pretty obvious. He limps horribly because one of his feet points behind him. His lower leg is twisted around and it hurts to watch him walk. At least it hurts me. On the other hand, I have rarely given him money. But I have often wondered about the thoughts of my fellow commuters. Do others feel this pain?
The Girl in the Cafe is a moving inquiry into social conscience. It somewhat parallels the New Testament story of the man in distress on the road to Jericho, where most people hurried by with a quick glance until one traveler “had compassion” and stopped to help. This film is about the compassion some have and others do not. It is also about the prospect that compassion on the part of a few might rouse it in others.
Bill Nighy plays a British government official (Lawenrce) preparing for a G8 Summit. The girl he meets in the cafe is played by Kelly Macdonald (Gina). They become chance friends and later lovers, but this is not the point of the story. Lawrence is a good man and has a conscience, but bureaucracy has dulled and discouraged it. Gina’s is another matter. Invited to the Summit meeting in Iceland and given the opportunity to meet political leaders she has only read about, she becomes outspoken in her social advocacy. Her confrontations are embarrassing and confounding because they are dogged and yet articulate. Lawrence is forced to offer his resignation and Gina is escourted from the meeting room.
At this point in the film, you are conflicted. There is suspicion that Gina is a planted activist who had duped Lawrence to gain this entry. There is even more suspicion when Lawrence learns that she has been recently released from prison. You are in belief that her fervent attempts to influence the leaders of her government have been an exercise in futility. I will leave it to your viewing of the film to discover if this is so or not.
After watching any movie, I always ask myself if I would ever want to watch it again. This one I only watched last evening, and I could gladly take the journey again tonight.
View scene from the film: