Then there is Mrs. Brown, a housewife in the 50s, masterfully played by Julianne Moore. She has the perfect life, the perfect husband, the perfect, beautiful son, yet she is inadequate for this very life she is living. The third woman is Clarissa, played by Meryl Streep, a book editor who struggles to keep her dear friend, poet and ex-lover involved as he struggles with AIDS.
One of the greatest aspects of the film are the touchstones of themes in the story. There is a desperate kiss in each story, each protagonist collects flowers to maintain a semblance of normalcy, and they all have an individual that keeps them alive and breathing, often out of duty. The deeper we look into this film, the richer we find it.
* * *
Is the purpose of life happiness?
But what if we have obtained happiness, all the things that we have reached for we finally achieve, all the hope realized and then, mysteriously, we are still not content? Some might say we are ungrateful, but the inner emptiness has noting to do with appreciation. We can be amazed and thankful of how far we have come, but it simply isn't enough. Perhaps the goals we achieved were wrong headed to begin with, or perhaps our emptiness will never be filled. We don't know. And the ache becomes more and more unbearable.
To obtain contentment, we must have peace both in our environment and in our hearts. To claim that one or the other kind of peace is all that is necessary leads to despair, causing one to fall in the personal void of discontent.
Perhaps contentment is essential, but if we see the basis of life as our own personal happiness, that would deepen the discontentment, because it can never be ultimately achieved. But what else is there? Compassion? Building society through family or other means? This is the core of our being, and we must discover it for ourselves. In the end, the determination of what gives our life purpose is a solitary determination.