The Secret-Driven Life

Like Robert De Niro, "Everybody's Fine." Well, not quite.

When you find yourself in a reflective mood, go see Robert De Niro's movie, Everybody's Fine. Perhaps you'll come out of the theater 90 minutes later (120 minutes if you include previews) as I did: feeling some deep distress and a desire to put into words some issues long stored in the archives of the soul.

De Niro is Frank, an aging, lonely and unwell recent widower. In the opening scene, you meet him at the supermarket where, sparing no expense, he is loading up on groceries, wines, a new barbeque and other essentials as he anticipates a weekend visit by his four adult children who live in various parts of the country. When people ask how Frank's soon-to-visit family is doing, he always answers, "Oh, everybody's fine."

A day or two before this "fine" family is to arrive, the phone brings some disappointing messages: each of the sons and daughters cannot come. The reasons seem plausible. But if you're really listening, you smell a rat. You've heard these excuses before, and you begin to ...

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