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© 2002-2016 Birgit Wolz
Occidental, CA, USA

 

 

Changing Lanes

Director: Roger Michell
Producer: Scott Rudin
Screenwriters: Chap Taylor, Michael Tolkin
Cast: Samuel L Jackson, Ben Affleck, Toni Collette, Sydney Pollack, William Hurt, Amanda Peet
MPAA Rating: R
Year of Release: 2002
Released on Video: 09/10/2002

Two hotheads become locked in escalating rounds of retaliation when a morning rush hour fender-bender causes both to miss crucial court deadlines. As he is rushing off to court from the accident, attorney Gavin hands the other man his card and says “Better luck next time!” then accidentally drops a signed form that means millions to his firm. A moment later, after Gavin refuses to give him a ride, the other driver in the accident, Doyle, a recovering alcoholic, finds the attorney’s form. When Gavin shows up at court without it, the judge gives him until the end of the day to produce it or his firm forfeits the money.

Doyle, meanwhile, wants to convince his ex-wife not to move with his kids to Oregon. He hopes that by keeping his family nearby he might save his failing marriage. To accomplish that, he needs to prove to a divorce judge that he is solvent and stable, and plans to do so by showing him that the bank has approved his home loan. But because of a flat tire caused by the accident, he shows up 20 minutes late and finds the case has been decided without him. Blaming Gavin, he takes out his rage by taunting him with a page faxed from the form that he found. Gavin retaliates by getting a hacker friend to artificially ruin Doyle’s credit rating. A spiraling series of attacks and counter attacks eventually leads both men to see that their worst enemy is their own anger.

Viewing Suggestion:

Notice how two men hit an emotional bottom in this film. And they learn from their experience. By the end of the day, each man's own anger scares him more than the other guy's. After reacting only to the actions of the other person in unconscious ways for a long time, both become aware of themselves, their own behavior and the subsequent consequences. This enables both men to start taking responsibility for their actions, develop empathy for the other, and find inner peace again.

Ask Yourself:

- Are you angry with somebody right now?
- Do you act out your anger sometimes similar to Gavin and Doyle?
- What do you need to change so that your anger doesn’t hurt another person or that it doesn’t backfire and hurt you?
- Do Gavin or Doyle demonstrate something that you need to avoid and other behavior that you might want to adopt when you are angry?
- Do you have inner resources that Gavin and Doyle don’t have?