A story of one woman's spiritual, emotional and creative transformation. One morning, "mouse-Burger" Melody, "Mel" Wilder is diagnosed with a terminal illness, fired from her thankless job and abandoned by her boyfriend. With nothing left to lose, given 2 months to live, she spends her entire life's savings renting an empty palatial loft in the Village. Thinking she'll never have to pay the piper, she lives off her credit cards, fills the loft with the fanciest products, sensually engages both the parcel delivery man and a pizza delivery girl and teaches herself to play the electric guitar she's craved since childhood. These life affirming experiences transform her irrevocably.
Actress Amy Redford's directorial debut, The Guitar
, pivots on a potentially risible concept made palatable by a charismatic cast: an attractive woman discovers she's dying, maxes out her credit cards, and indulges her every materialistic and sexual whim (and yes, Amy is Robert Redford's daughter). But what sounds like an art-house version of The Bucket List
offers its own unique charms--at least for those who don't take it too literally. Moments after Melody Wilder (Saffron Burrows) finds out she has inoperable throat cancer, she loses her job and her boyfriend, leaving her alone and broke in New York City (Janeane Garofolo gives her the bad medical news). So, she abandons her basement apartment and moves into a cavernous loft, where she orders fancy outfits and furnishings, throws the refuse out the windows, and dines on take-out while dreaming of the red Stratocaster she coveted as a girl. Soon Mel’s life revolves around her new stuff and the kindly individuals who deliver it to her: the married Roscoe (Isaach de Bankolé) and engaged Cookie (Paz de la Huerta). All the while, the willowy Burrows, much like Ali McGraw in Love Story
, makes listless and pale seem more glamorous than sad, but just as tragedy gives way to fantasy, Mel returns to reality once her credit runs out. As a how-to guide for the terminally ill, The Guitar
won't win many points, but as a metaphor for spiritual emptiness, it gets the job done. --Kathleen C. Fennessy