Monday, December 8, 2008

51 Birch Street

Have you ever walked in on your parents having sex?

Watching this documentary is a little bit like that. Deeply uncomfortable and something you're not likely to forget. In 51 Birch Street, the filmmaker, Doug Block, explores his parents' marriage after his father hastily marries his former secretary just weeks after his wife's unexpected death.

What follows is a brutally honest look inside a 54-year marriage, thanks in large part to the oh-so-detailed diaries left behind by the deceased wife, Mina. As he reads her diary, filmmaker and son has to reconcile the marriage he thought his parents had with the one written down on paper. And it's all there: his mother's depression, despair, affairs and indiscretions. Added to that is the lingering question about his father's quickie re-marriage. Was he having an affair with his secretary all along?

I'll let you find out for yourself. As for me? This was great reinforcement to my rule of never keeping a diary. When you die, someone is going to read them. So burn them, people. Burn them. Given what I learned in this film, your kids do not want to read the words "mom" and "fellatio" in the same sentence.

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