I love going to the movies. I love movies in general, but there’s something about going to the cinema and sharing in the experience of watching a movie with a roomful of strangers. It’s a weird thing to enjoy when you lay it out like that, but life is kind of weird sometimes, so I guess it makes sense. I try to go to as many movies as possible, but with my overbooked work schedule of late, I’ve fallen way behind in my moviegoing. This is why it took me several weeks to see the latest entry in the Star Wars universe, but yesterday I finally headed to my favourite cinema where all the screens are huge no matter which theatre you get, and settled into my usual third row centre seat, popcorn in hand, to take in Solo: A Star Wars Story. Just as the movie was about to begin, I reached into my purse to turn off my cell and noticed I had a new message from home. My grandmother had passed away.
Just for context, she was 96 years old, had lived a long and happy life, and her passing wasn’t a surprise. She had been in the hospital for the past couple of weeks, and as her quality of life gradually diminished I began to hope that one night she would just go peacefully in her sleep. I’m grateful that in the end that is how she died. Still, that knowledge didn’t make it any less jarring to see her death spelled out in plain text on my screen. I would have loved to have immediately gone to be with my family, but I live on a different continent an ocean away, which meant that in that moment there was nothing I could do. So I turned off my phone and focused on the screen in front of me. I wasn’t ready to grieve and I needed a distraction, and Solo provided that and so much more.
It’s no secret to anyone who has given even a cursory glance at the entertainment headlines this past week that Solo is being described as a box office disappointment, but having finally seen the movie, I’m baffled as to why. The film is action-packed, witty, and just plain fun, and features great performances all around. Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Thandie Newton, and Paul Bettany are all solid, and while I had never heard of Phoebe Waller-Bridge before, I’m 100% a fan now. To say that Donald Glover is awesome is almost a cliche at this point, and Alden Ehrenreich manages to pull off what has got to be the most thankless role in cinema history. Seriously. I still have no idea why someone thought it would be a good idea to try and recast Harrison Ford as Han Solo, but against all the odds Ehrenreich makes it work.
But more importantly for myself, Solo succeeded in doing what I didn’t think would be possible. For over two hours it completely transported me to a galaxy far, far away, and gave me the time I needed to be ready to start processing my grief. Once the lights came up there would be tearful phone calls home and desperately needed hugs from my roommate, but first, I just needed a minute to catch my breath.
So thank you to the cast and crew of Solo and everyone involved in its creation. Thank you for so thoroughly drawing me into your story and delighting me with your humour and awe inspiring visuals. Thank you for finally showing me just exactly what the Kessel Run entailed and for proving that it was indeed epic. Han Solo was right to brag about it for all those years. Thank you for making me smile and laugh when all I wanted to do was cry. Thank you for allowing me to forget that my family was so far away when all I wanted was a hug. And thank you for giving me something fun to engage with while I came to terms with the fact that someone I dearly loved would no longer be waiting for me on my next visit home. Yesterday, in that theatre, you all gave me exactly what I needed, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for that gift.