The film is called ‘Dirty Filthy Love’ and it’s a story about the perils, challenge, and victories of a man learning to deal with Tourette’s syndrome and a rather severe case of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. I understand it has won or was at least nominated for a Sundance award (independent film), but frankly, I don’t care about that.
I absolutely adored this film because it provided a raw and utterly glamor-less look at the human condition and particularly of the very real struggle faced by people for whom the usual worries, frets, and fears we sublimate or otherwise compensate and manage rather normally are, in every moment of manifestation, epic battles that absorb and very often, destroy any semblance of normalcy for those who endure them.
Can you possibly know what it is like to be unable to get out of your bed without counting the ceiling tiles? Or what it’s like to fear putting your naked feet upon the floor because you are absolutely, completely, and unequivocally convinced that the bacteria in the invisible specks of dirt gathered there overnight will result in a horrible infection that will cost your legs if not your life?
I have known people who suffered from moderate to extreme cases of OCD. I have known people who have lived with severe Tourette’s – so much so that even medicines do not help. Common conversations are all but impossible; punctuated by growls, barks, twitches of body, head, or limbs, and a peppering of the most salted, pointedly perverse, and completely inappropriate language.
And the shame. There is utter awareness of the wrongness of the behavior. There is unending chagrin and frustration, anger and humiliation and embarrassment because they know it makes them look insane and they know it makes them hard to be around and they know beyond all denial that it is never going to completely go away.
The reason I adored this movie is because it does not shirk or shrink from any of it. It refuses to deny the range of tragedy as well as the rage of the effort, many times failed, of dealing effectively with it.
It is horrific, it is sad, it is terrible, and it will make you cry. The reactions of friends, family, lovers, and the world at large are set under magnification so even we, the fortunate ones, cannot miss what it is really like…. what it is REALLY like.
All the idiotic, petty things that we languish and anguish over, all the intermittent annoyances we fluff up and make large of, all the utterly transient things we allow to rule and so often ruin our enjoyment of life… I dare you to watch this film and do anything other than realize how ridiculously fortunate you are, because you could as easily have this life, this difficult and pointlessly harsh life, for no other reason than genetics or stress or a season of psychological crisis.
If you want to find a deep and abiding appreciation for your life as you know it, if you want to shift your view just long enough to find the feeling of that appreciation, I dare you to bring an open and unguarded mind to this, to sit yourself down and allow yourself to feel it, to put yourself in the place of the lead and let yourself feel the feelings of living that life.
Early in, the lead tells his friend that he doesn’t have time to really get help. Can you understand the layered sadness of that statement? How, on top of everything else, the abject inability to admit is as permanent and grand and terrible a trap as may be imagined?
I adore films such as this because they remind me of many things; the true need for compassion, the ease with which we so often allow ourselves to be distracted from it, the simple truth that is found in choosing, actively choosing, to remind ourselves of any and all of this, and to engage that choice fully and often so we remember both what it is to be human and what it means to BE human.
The title rings true to me, any real love, any genuine love, any lasting love IS dirty, IS filthy, and that is a substantial and legitimate part of its beauty.