tek's rating: ¾

Being Human (PG-13)
IMDb; Rotten Tomatoes; Wikipedia
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This came out in 1994, and I'm sure I must have first seen it on TV sometime in the 90s. I finally watched it again on DVD in 2021, by which time I didn't remember much about it. I remembered Robin Williams playing different characters in several different time periods, though I only specifically remembered the first and the last. Actually, the movie is framed by the last story, as a little bit of it appears before the first fully story. There's also narration throughout the movie, which I didn't remember, and I'm not sure how I feel about it, now. At first I found it kind of irksome, but I suppose it may have grown on me a little. One other thing I've always remembered about the movie is that I really liked the character of his daughter in the final story, and hoped to see the actress in other things, but alas, I never did. (According to IMDb, this is her only credit.) Anyway, the internet suggests that not only is Williams's character reincarnated throughout the five stories, but so are some other characters. Personally I find that dubious, since the other characters are played by different actors in different time periods, with Williams as the only constant.

In the first story, he plays an unnamed cave man whose mate and children are kidnapped by raiders. In the second story, his character is named Hector, as he will be throughout the subsequent stories. This time he's an ancient Roman slave. In the third story he's a Scottish man returning from the Crusades. (At least Wikipedia says he's Scottish; I could have sworn he was speaking with an Irish accent.) In the fourth story he's a Portuguese man who's part of a group that's shipwrecked in Africa. I don't really have much I feel like saying about any of those incarnations. They were all okay, I guess, but... they make it hard for me to rate the movie overall. I'm really not sure how highly I'd rate each individual story, but surely it would be lower than I rate the movie as a whole. My rating is enhanced by the final story, which I kind of loved. It's set in the present, and Hector is a divorced businessman who's had some trouble with the law, and hasn't seen his two children, Betsy and Thomas, in four years. They reconnect one weekend while staying at a beach house, and while their reunion starts out somewhat awkwardly, it gets better as it progresses.

I feel like I should say more about the movie's attempt to shed some kind of light on one man's journey through life over several lifetimes. He does seem similarly downtrodden (whether in reality or in his mind) in each of his lives. Or melancholy. That's probably the best word to describe the whole movie. And he's always longing for something he's lost, a wife and/or children, which makes it especially poignant for him to reconnect with his kids in the last story. Anyway, despite the title, I can't say it seems to me like any sort of statement on, like, the universality of being human, since it focuses mostly on this one soul. But I do think it's a good movie, even if the whole is less than the sum of its parts.

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