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Ink (2009)

This movie is amazing. Truly amazing. I just finished watching it about 5 minutes ago and I’m still weeping. Ink is about pride, sin, guilt, shame, pain, grief, forgiveness, love and redemption. The story centers around a man named John. He is a big deal stock broker, a wheeler and dealer. He’s also deeply unhappy but we don’t know why. As the movie opens, John gets in his car and begins screaming. He calms down, starts driving and is then plowed into by an SUV that ran a red light. We see John’s battered and bruised face and then a ghostly hand reaches out and touches his forehead. The next thing we see, John is in bed with his wife and is being woken up by his young daughter Emma. The rest of the film unfolds through a series of interlocking flashbacks to tell the story of John’s life and all the little choices that have caused him to end up in that car accident.

The story is told through a plot device that explains that there is a world beyond our world, filled with creatures of light and dark who are at war with one another. It seems that when we sleep, beings called “Storytellers” give us good dreams and the “Incubus” give us nightmares. One night, a terrifying and deformed creature named Ink, kidnaps John’s daughter while she is sleeping and takes her to the world of the Storytellers and Incubi. Ink belongs to neither group. But we come to learn that the Incubi have offered to make him one of them if he will bring them the gift of a human soul. And Ink, consumed by guilt and shame, decides to do what they ask. Why? Because the head incubus promises that once Ink is one of the them, he will never feel pain or emotions again. Eternal numbness is clearly something that the tortured Ink desperately wants.

In real life, John’s daughter falls into a comma and a group of Storytellers set out to save her by bringing John to her in the hospital. They are lead by an enigmatic man named Jacob. He is a Pathfinder who has made an interesting deal with God. Jacob is their only hope of convincing John to see Emma. But the question is, will he go? I won’t reveal the other details but suffice it to say that it is a very real question as to whether or not they can get John to choose to see Emma in time and it’s more than just Emma’s life and soul that hang in the balance.

The movie is not only deeply moving but it’s gorgeous as well. They’ve done an amazing job of characterizing the Storytellers and the Incubi. The differences between our world and their world is intensified through lighting and other effects. For example, one of the Storyteller explains to Emma that time is different in their world and you get a real sense of that via camera angels, color and these odd jump cuts that are like scenes jumping in and out when you change the channel on an old TV. And there is just the most amazing sequence at the end where the two worlds overlap. We literally get to see the war raging on all around us that we are completely blind to see.

Ink isn’t perfect, but it’s amazing. It is deeply moving—so very deeply moving to see the amazing thing that forgiveness came bring to those who suffer in shame and silence.