Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson) and Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman) meet on an oncology ward, where they are both faced with terminal illness. Their lives have been different; Edward has made a lot of money and lived a playboy lifestyle, but is now alone after several failed marriages and estrangement from his daughter. Carter, on the other hand, has had a settled job as a car mechanic and been married ‘long enough for the both of us’. The two men strike up an unlikely friendship and between them draw up a ‘Bucket List’ – a list of things to do before they die. The film shows how they fulfil some of their remaining dreams and make some peace with themselves and the world.
I was having a conversation with a real-life movie buff today and tried to explain that I really have no idea what constitutes a ‘good’ film. For me, it’s usually a case of whether I became engrossed in the story, was not offended by the content, enjoyed the scenes and came away with something to think about. Using those very simplistic criteria, I really enjoyed ‘The Bucket List’. It’s witty and tender, with some genuinely thought-provoking moments.
One of the parts of the film which made me reflect is a short scene in the middle of the film, where Cole and Carter are surveying the view over the Pyramids. Edward explains to Carter that: ‘“You know, the ancient Egyptians had a beautiful belief about death. When their souls got to the entrance to heaven, the guards asked two questions. Their answers determined whether they were able to enter or not. ‘Have you found joy in your life?’ ‘Has your life brought joy to others?’” I mentally made a list of the things in life that bring me joy (those of you who know me will probably be surprised to know that chocolate didn’t make it into the rankings!) It also occurred to me to think about the ways in which my own life could bring more joy to others, a process which involved a fair amount of honest self-appraisal.
This 97-minute movie made me contemplate some very profound issues and, more importantly, I may make some changes as a result. I can’t guarantee the film will have the same effect on everyone, it might just be a bit too melodramatic for some, but it worked for me.