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The Surprising Grace of "The Other Side of Things"

Culture

We all know what parents will sacrifice for their children, whether it’s to protect them from harsh reality or to keep their dreams alive. It’s easy to admire those who are willing to give all they have to someone they love, yet not so easy to help them up when they fall. These stories are hard to tell in ways that don’t feel mawkish or stereotypical; however, "The Other Side of Things," a short film depicting a Latina single mother’s attempt to keep her son’s dream of flying a plane alive during a period of homelessness, more than succeeds in bringing their story to life. Additionally, it asks us who we would leave behind in an effort to uphold a dysfunctional system and affirms those who try to change it anyway, even with a kind word.

When Patricia loses her job cleaning airplanes, she and her son, Andrew, are forced to live in a car. This could have become a story of despair; instead, it becomes a story of hope portrayed realistically and meaningfully. The film may only be fifteen minutes, but the touching scenes remain ingrained in the memory of the audience, not for their magnitude, but for the authentic manner in which the humanity of most everyone shines through. The only person not given that treatment doesn’t entirely deserve it. The plot is driven by a credit card. The pilot who fires her leaves the credit card in the plane, and she uses it to fulfill a version of her son’s dreams. She may not be able to give him a jet, but she can decorate her car to resemble one.

This small gesture is a reminder that we can make some part of our dreams come true, no matter what the circumstance is, if we are willing to redefine reality to comprehend the glimmer in the fog. At the same time, the film demonstrates that even a capacity to make the best of one’s circumstances is unsustainable in the face of the callousness of the wealthy. The wealthy pilot clings to his money for his pride but only cares for his credit card when it goes missing. It does its viewers a kindness in temporarily resurrecting one’s faith in humanity.

Yes, there are those who leave the destitute in the dust, but the rare soul will speak up for the forgotten and give them wings at the least expected moment. Society makes it so easy to live for our own wants. Still, it costs us nothing to offer someone a hand, to smile with grace at anyone we pass. Sacrifice costs everyone something, whether we are the ones sacrificing or the ones guilty of a lack of sacrifice. Tolerance and grace don’t cost a dime, even when they go against the norm.

Too often we reinforce cruel traditions, simply to maintain constancy for our self-perception. These range from blaming the poor for not pulling themselves up when the system drags them down, to women who dismiss other women and perpetuate double standards. The American dream does not live on in a system that chips away at rights and efforts to invest in equity but in people willing to open their doors to give others a surprising chance. Racism, sexism, and inequality continue to exist, but human goodwill and purposeful rebellion resurrect the American dream when it seems as though all hope is lost.

It’s easy to lose faith in the possibility of change with every tragedy and thoughtless act. Even so, we search for endings to become forever happy. Moments of pure joy are frozen in time; we wait for the thaw and sorrow to flood in. No matter what happens, though, we can carve our dreams in the dark, create a jet from a car. At the same time, we must see the other side of things. This means not only superficial empathy but understanding that people can do the wrong thing for the right reasons and the right thing for the wrong reasons. Either way, they deserve redemption and a chance to live the life they imagine in the clouds.

In "The Other Side of Things," Patricia and Andrew undergo a journey of dismissal and renewal that keeps us watching, hoping and praying that they get the ending they deserve. More than an uplifting story, this film asks us to move beyond people’s exteriors. Instead, it begs us to give them the plane they need and to see the rainbow in their hearts with something as simple as a smile and proffered hand.

Ananya Vinay
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Ananya Vinay is a rising high school senior from Fresno, California. She is a budding scientist and writer, as well as the author of a poetry collection, Dewdrops on the Mind, with work forthcoming or published in the Ice Lolly Review, Apprentice Writer, Teen Ink, and New Scene Magazine. When she’s not writing, you can find her with her nose in a book, inventing stories, or sometimes arguing with her younger brother.