20 May 2008

half-life of a father's love

I watched the DVD of Pu-239 (2006), a story about a plutonium isotope. Pu-239 is also a story about love, in particular a father's love. Paddy Considine plays a nuclear power plant worker in 1990s Russia, the husband of Radha Mitchell. Exposed to a lethal dose of radiation during a malfunction (one which he repeatedly warned his supervisors was imminent), he makes some desperate decisions in order to provide for his wife and son. Oscar Isaac plays a street thug in Moscow who, due to his bonehead associates, faces the prospect of meeting the Grim Reaper at about the same time as Considine's character. He, too, is willing to make some desperate plays out of love for his girlfriend, and especially, for his son.

The story line excels, but what really makes the movie great, in my opinion, are the voiceovers of Considine. Here's proof that physics and love come together in spiritual communion.

"An element loses a particle and becomes unstable. A chain reaction is set in motion. Pulsing waves of desperation in every direction. Perhaps the lost part is clarity or hope. In the fallout, the man-made elements appear—isotopes of fear and anger that cannot be handled safely or buried in the ground. They take the shape of a mushroom cloud started above a desert, that circles the globe and shadows us all."

"Uranium, Neptunium, Plutonium. They came from space; found their way here by comet and meteorite. No child ever wished this from a star. Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Chernobyl. Problems with half-lives forty-thousand years long. Half a life. Time takes half of us away and comes back later for the rest. We are children and then we are parents. We are long division. Slowly we decay into memory."

Even though the film has a gloomy feel to it (this is the early years of post-Soviet Russia), it "radiates" plenty of life. Okay, enough half-life.

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