When you’re alone, who cares for starlit skies
When you’re alone, the magic moonlight dies
At break of dawn, there is no sunrise
When your lover has gone
Those lyrics come from the jazz standard, When Your Lover Has Gone, written by Einar Aaron Swan in 1931. From Billie Holliday to Frank Sinatra, and from Ray Charles to Louis ‘Satchmo’ Armstrong, this song has attracted many well-known as well as unknown singers. You can generally expect to hear this song, in a smokey club, with a solo singer, with a big or small group of musicians laying down the tracks.
It is a song with a universal theme. Hearts are broken in all cultures and in all languages. And that very theme is the subject of the film Manglehorn. I caught this film on Day Eight of the 2015 Sarasota Film Festival.
Al Pacino is the lead. He plays Angelo Manglehorn, a forlorn locksmith, in a small town near Austin, Texas. He lives alone, or rather with a long-haired white cat called Fannie, and his memories. Truly, for him, even as his alarm clock goes off every morning at seven AM, there is no sunrise for Manglehorn.
Simply, he’s a man living in the present but one who is a prisoner of his past.
Despite the fact that he has a rather successful son, and a granddaughter that he loves, Manglehorn’s life, is as nondescript as can be. Opening locked cars to rescue a child, opening doors, or safes, along with duplicating keys is his day job – or at least the one that pays the bills – is all the same to him. Nothing in his line of work seems satisfying. He doesn’t turn away business, he’s just rather unenthused about it.
Things go on in the real world and almost all of them seem unremarkable to Manglehorn. Even a minor earthquake which results in a framed picture falling off the wall after a few seconds of the tremors leaves him unfazed. As does a deadly six car pileup on a nearby road.
Manglehorn is self-contained. He ventures into the real world to earn his living, but he’s really chosen to seal himself off from emotions – at least the kind that arrive through interacting with his grown son , played by Chris Messina, or his local bank teller, played by Holly Hunter, or even a now grown man who once played on a baseball team that Manglehorn coached.