There’s a problem for you

My least favourite phrase EVER in the history of phrases is “first world problems”. It’s been bandied around a lot when it comes to a new Aussie movie I saw on Saturday called Palm Beach.

I’m not entirely sure what sort of problems first world people are supposed to have, as they can’t suffer third world ones.

Reviewers mainly seem annoyed that the lead character – played by Bryan Brown – is filthy rich and lives in the most fabulous house at Palm Beach, with views over both Pittwater and the ocean, but isn’t happy.

His wife is recovering from breast cancer, his son is drifting aimlessly through life and Bryan’s character doesn’t know what to do with himself after selling his business. He feels “dead” inside and is on anti-depressants, which have left him impotent.

It shows an incredible lack of understanding of depression to think having a beach view and truckloads of cash should fix it.

Depression doesn’t work that way.

I read this post on Instagram earlier this month:

Yep. Pretty much.

That said, Palm Beach isn’t a great movie.

It drifts a bit aimlessly, much like Bryan’s on-screen son. Bryan’s real-life wife Rachel Ward wrote the screenplay. I’m not sure screenplays are her strength.

But I loved watching the movie in the little cinema at Avalon, as scenes played out in the Woolies carpark across the road. It was also beautifully shot and reinforced what a gorgeous part of the world DD lives in.

It’s a pity that the screenplay let Palm Beach down. It had so much potential to explore the emotional struggle involved in moving to that third phase of your life – a time when your career is fading and age is getting the better of your body.

I couldn’t relate to Bryan’s angst – I don’t think retiring would affect me that way if I didn’t have to worry about money. I’d be relieve to sit back and soak up that view.

But we each have different motivations that get us out of bed in the morning. Bryan’s was obviously the drive to succeed. Without business success he felt lost.

What centres me these days is love, writing and the ocean.

Different strokes, different folks.

Speaking of strokes … I don’t know if it was a coincidence but, in a film filled with disfunctional relationships, the only people who seemed joyful were the  couple having sex …

And, circling back to first world problems … I visited Kathleen Folbigg in jail yesterday. She’s had a pretty crap year as she battles through her farcical “judicial review” and its fall out.

There’s a corker of a problem for you … what world would you classify it as belonging in?

I’m pretty sure if I asked “critics” to review her situation thousands would tell me she deserves everything she gets.

It fascinates me that they can be so confident in their opinions when they’ve often only read a few inflammatory lines about the case on Facebook.

I think society has taken its right to a loud – and often ill-informed – opinion on just about everything a little too far in recent years.

I reckon we’d all be much better off if we focussed on lifting ourselves up rather than looking for people to tear down.

As for Kathy, she seemed remarkably strong and calm. I was awed by her resilience in the face of that going-through-the-motions process, which chose to ignore scientific evidence in favour of ringleading a media circus to get the monkey off the Attorney General’s back.

OK, I’d better go do that’s getting out of bed thing now.

Song of the day: Pharrell Williams “Happy”





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