A Marvel character had said that “grief is love enduring.” That sums up the plot of Thank You, I’m Sorry. The movie follows Sara, who is about to give birth to her second child in a month, and at this critical stage in her life, she is left widowed and surrounded by people she is very angry with.
First things first, the actors do a phenomenal job, and Sanna Sundqvist, as Sara, is especially stunning with her portrayal of grief breaking through her normalcy. Her performance overshadows everyone else’s, and in so many ways, the force of her character is felt through the screen. That makes sense, considering how she is written, but perhaps the mother-in-law’s character needed to be a little bit more of something. It is not clear why she is such an eyesore when, for the most part, she is only helping without getting overly friendly, which is what Sara would have preferred. Or maybe the audience needs to understand that her constant reference to her experience as a psychologist is her way of coping with her own grief.
Secondly, the atmosphere-building of the movie is very well done. The somewhat grainy color scheme is a little cliche, but it works nicely with the instruments of humor that the film employs: that of the necessary mundane routines clashing with overwhelming moments of grief. The tragicomic nature of this film borders on realistic, and that makes this story so much more believable.
Unlike most stories of the reconciliation of families, there is no one irresponsible in this story. If anything, the conflicts are caused by people taking on different responsibilities. Sara is angry with her sister for choosing to stay with their father after their parents’ divorce. She considers it an abandonment on her part, and that is the foundation of her entire personality, well into adulthood. As for Linda, her role as the caretaker of her father shaped many of her choices, mostly toxic ones, into the present day. These are two children of divorce who never found the mental health support they needed, and when they were finally in the presence of a psychologist, it was Sara’s insufferable mother-in-law.
In the midst of the story, there are also hints of what happens when children are born into households that are not prepared for them. For so long, society has always placed importance on the family system without understanding and addressing the needs of individuals. This is a conversation nobody in the world is ready to have without addressing the facets of patriarchy and the class divide. Until that happens, people will only pass on the generational trauma instead of breaking it down. Or in cases like Thank You, I’m Sorry, it takes a lot of dealing with self-hatred before you reach a point where you can learn to accept happiness.
Linda and Sara were unhappy with their parents, and instead of learning from that, they continued with those systems in their lives, probably because of their familiarity with them. Sara found herself in a marriage where she could feel the resentment from her husband, just like her mother felt from her father. As for Linda, she found herself becoming the caretaker of her boyfriend because that was the only value she had found for herself in her relationship with her parents. Both the sisters are hyper-independent, but in very different ways, and despite wanting the best for each other, they can’t see eye to eye on any issue.
There is one particular scene in the film where Sara is once again cutting ties with her sister because she was caught up with their father instead of attending to Sara’s child. Technically, Linda is not at fault here. But for Sara, this is a repeat of her childhood, where she felt abandoned by her sister. Unknowingly, she is passing those fears on to her child, and when Linda tries to call her out on it, Sara replies that there is no other way to be. This is a very interesting look at why we teach certain behaviors to those around us, specifically to the next generation. It is not always done unknowingly, but because of an active fear that not learning these behaviors will place them at a greater disadvantage than learning them.
It is as we continue to think about the characters more and more that we realize just how excellent the writing of this movie is and why it is so relevant, especially at a time like this when the world around us is exploding with therapy talk and self-love jargon, without addressing what it actually takes to imbibe those things in her life and how much of it is dependent on the people around us. We have a special love for movies that get better with subsequent viewings. Thank You, I’m Sorry is one of them. The first time we saw it, we realized the grief that comes with hyper-independence. As we continued to think about it, we realized the way trauma is often perceived as a lesson to be learned and is willfully taught to the next generation. Then there is the nuance of rage against family and how, many times, that is the only thing that gives one the strength to deal with them. As we delve deeper into the characters, we also start thinking about the therapeutic nature of talking, screaming, and throwing punches at people. We should all be given a free pass to punch every person in our lives at least once or throw a phone at an irritating relative, because how else do you relieve your anger while still ‘maintaining relationships’? Women’s mental health all over the world would especially benefit from it.
It is sad that perhaps Thank You, I’m Sorry will not receive the attention it should. It is simply one of those movies that you should watch at least once in your life. Additionally, it may be a somewhat insensitive thing to say, but the movie will resonate even better with someone who has probably lost someone in their life and is feeling guilty about not liking them much, to begin with. Watching the complicated reality of it is far better than hearing the words of comfort from anyone, even if they might be right. Don’t miss this movie if you can.