The City of Your Final Destination: Taking Control

By Christopher De Maria · April 26, 2010

The City of Your Final Destination
is a beautifully filmed story about love, life and finding your place in the world.

When Omar (Omar Metwally), a literature teacher, is denied the opportunity to write a biography on the late Latin-American author, Jules Gund, he takes it upon himself to fly down to Uruguay to get the authorization he needs from the executors of the Gund estate.

Omar is a smart man, but of very little conviction. This is probably why he has fund stability with his controlling girlfriend, Deirde (Alexandra Maria Lara). A long journey from Kansas with no guarantees is what makes for a character we instinctively root for. However, we sense very early that Omar is not as happy as he wants to be, and he makes the journey by himself. A 28-year old successful man who has no clue what the future holds for him.

Once in Uruguay, Omar meets the three people he must convince to let him write the biography: The author’s widow, brother and mistress, who all still live at the estate together. Caroline (Laura Linney) is the hold-out of the group. She has stayed at the house since her husband’s death and prefers her privacy on the matters of her marriage – and her husband’s indiscretions. Arden (Charlotte Gainsbourg), the mistress of the author, is young and confused, but happy to live in the house, as it has become a nice place to raise her child – Gund’s daughter. The last executor is Adam (Anthony Hopkins), who is Gund’s brother, and in his own way has found solace at the estate, where he lives with his life partner, Pete (Hiroyuki Sanada).

Omar, with his best intentions, is taken in by the “family” and he slowly learns a little about the author, his life, his death and the people who held him in such high regard. But more then that, he learns about himself. This is where the story becomes a character study of how people change our lives when we least expect it.

It’s not long before a connection is made between Omar and Arden; she doesn’t try to control him, or push him, she is just, her – which is enough for him. Like the three executors, Omar falls in love with the estate, and the people. It’s not hard to; everyone tends to their own land, eats fresh food and drinks good wine. This is place where Omar would never go if he didn’t have a reason, which is the subtle lesson we are meant to take away from this film: If you don’t take chances in life, then you won’t become the person you want to be.

Directed by James Ivory and written by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, The City of Your Final Destination is adapted from the novel of the same name. Both the director and screenwriter have worked together on such films as The Remains of the Day and Howards End, among others, and City proves that this team has survived the 2005 death of longtime collaborator Ismail Merchant, with whom they shared six Academy Awards. City is beautifully sculpted to remind us that whatever we do in life, people will come in and out of it and change us – some in small ways, and some in huge ways. Omar’s visit may have been to obtain the authority to write about someone else’s life, but in his new relationships he learns that he must take control of his own life first.

The City of Your Final Destination has a limited release in theatres, but I would recommend finding it.


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