★★★ / ★★★★
“Tickets,” directed by Abbas Kiarostami, Ken Loach and Ermanno Olmi, weaved three stories aboard a train heading toward Rome. The first was a pharmacology professor (Carlo Delle Piane) who rushed home because he promised he would be back for his grandson’s birthday. But when he met the PR Lady (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi) of the company who helped him obtain a last-minute spot on the train, he couldn’t help but think of her on the way home. The second strand involved a difficult aging Italian woman (Silvana De Santis) and what it seemed like to be her son named Filippo (Filippo Trojano). Trouble began when they knowingly occupied seats which happened to be reserved. The final story involved three young men, supermarket attendants in their hometown, from Scotland (Martin Compston, Gary Maitland, William Ruane) on their way to see an epic football match. When one of them couldn’t find his train ticket, one of them was convinced that a kid, an Albanian refugee, was to blame. I watched “Tickets” in complete fascination because each story had a special story to tell. I loved that the stories weren’t necessarily important in order for us to appreciate them. The film started off with a quiet power propelled by every day happenings. Feelings of loneliness were explored when the professor fantasized about a woman whom he might never see again. We’ve all been in his situation where we stared at our computer screen and struggled to capture the right words to someone who we considered to hold a certain importance: an employer, a friend, a crush. Its tone was different from the other two because, due to the way it was shot at times, the aging man’s reality almost felt like a fantasy. For instance, everyone happened to turn their heads at the same time to look at a certain exciting happening in a corner. Those of us who’ve been on train rides know that there’s all sorts of distraction going on that it’s rare for everyone to focus on only one thing. The dream-like quality, purposely slow-paced, worked because it highlighted the professor’s yearning for romance. The bit involving the Italian woman and her escort held my attention because of the way it unfolded. I had all sorts of wild ideas like Filippo having recently woken up from a coma, an amnesia as a temporary side effect, because it explained why he had so many questions about his own life. His conversations with a childhood friend, whom he initially didn’t recognize, was often interrupted by the Italian lady and her ridiculous demands. I wondered how Filippo could have the patience to withstand her nasty personality. I would have left her on the train, her ticket hidden my pocket. And then there was the three lads forced to weigh the importance between a football match and helping refugees in need. I think it was the strongest of the three. It had a subtle lesson about tolerance and the kindness that three young men exuded was ultimately hopeful. Having been around individuals like them in public transportations, I expected them to be rowdy and nothing more. However, they ended up having a lot of heart as their struggle to do good cut through the fog. I wanted to get to know them more. “Tickets” offered different stories, but the way it was put together highlighted common themes such as what it meant to love, in more ways than one, other people. Sometimes we do need to be reminded that it’s important to care for things outside of ourselves.