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Moscow on the Hudson

So tonight, Remi and I watched Moscow on the Hudson. She said it was her favorite Robin Williams film and I hadn’t watched it. By the end of it, it made the top of my list too. It discusses a whole slew of issues, but the things that really hit me were the ones about misery and self-pity, dealing with rejection and crying it all out.

So Vladimir Ivanoff (Williams) and his friend, Lionel Witherspoon (Cleavant Derricks), were walking home from a jazz bar after Vlad, a saxophonist, played alongside his hero, Wild Bill Hawthorn.

Vlad: I got smoked man.
Lionel: You didn’t get smoked, man. What did you expect from the man?

Vlad sees some trashcans on the sidewalk, proceeds to kiss his saxophone case, and dumps it in. Lionel saves it and hurries to catch up with the despondent Vlad.

Vlad: Better to know who you are. That way you know your limits. You know who the hell you are.
Lionel, exasperated: All he said was practice and work on it.
Vlad: No, man. I am shit. (He flops onto a couch that had been discarded on the sidewalk.)
Lionel: Oh, you’re full of shit man. Full of shit.

Lionel proceeds to lecture him about soul, about how one can’t learn soul in a few months.

Lionel: Let me tell you something else, man. Self-pity ain’t gonna get you nowhere.
Vlad: The saddest thing in the world is life, man.
Lionel: You telling me? It gets so bad sometimes, I don’t think I’ll make it.

Vlad laughs ruefully at this, and Lionel tells him about his kid.

Lionel: When I think of that kid, I wanna cry.
Vlad: Why don’t you cry? It’s good for you.
Lionel: I don’t have to cry. I don’t need to cry.
Vlad: Lionel, when– when I was in Russia… (He edges closer.) I did not love my life. But I loved my misery. You know why? Because it was my misery. I could hold it. I could caress it. I loved my misery. You know, I have a whole family I will never, ever see again.

Lionel starts to cry and pulls his flask from his pocket.

Vlad: You see? Now you see. You know it. There it is. Now you know that the saddest thing in the world is life. Yeah, man. Now you see.

They start crying and laughing as they share the flask.

Vlad: Thank you for a wonderful night. (He stands up.) Boy, I feel great. Hey, take care, okay? I love you. (He laughs as he walks into his building.)
Lionel, as he staggers up from the couch as well: If that was wonderful, what happens when he hits deep depression?