Vital Signs

Screen – Humor and Intelligence

Comfort and Joy; Written and Directed by Bill Forsyth; a Universal Release.

At one point in Comfort and Joy, Alan Bird, a Glasgow disc jockey/radio per­sonality who immersed himself in a feud between Mr. Bunny and Mr. McCool, two mobile ice cream vend­ing companies, makes an attempt at reconciling the warring parties (remi­niscent of rival Chicago bootleggers of the 1920's) by appealing to a sense of proportion. After all, he points out, the issue is ice cream, which isn't, in the larger context of things, particular­ly important. Instead of making a met­aphysical rebuttal, the ice cream man simply asks Bird what greater contribu­tion a DJ makes to humanity.

Alan Bird eventually discovers that his broadcast antics do make a contri­bution to something beyond advertiser revenues: he meets an elderly woman in a hospital who tells him that he brings a smile into her life everymorn­ing. What more could he desire? Sim­ilarly, ice cream brings joy into peo­ple's lives. It may not be the sort of joy that induces raptures or finds outlet in lyric poetry, but it can provide a mo­ment or two of solace in a world dominated by disaster.

Bill Forsyth's film will never attain the status of a classic–and even Academy Award nomination is doubtful–but like his previous films, Gregory's Girl and Local Hero, it is sufficiently...

Join now to access the full article and gain access to other exclusive features.

Get Started

Already a member? Sign in here