Comfort and Joy; Written and Directed by Bill Forsyth; a Universal Release.
At one point in Comfort and Joy, Alan Bird, a Glasgow disc jockey/radio personality who immersed himself in a feud between Mr. Bunny and Mr. McCool, two mobile ice cream vending companies, makes an attempt at reconciling the warring parties (reminiscent of rival Chicago bootleggers of the 1920’s) by appealing to a sense of proportion. After all, he points out, the issue is ice cream, which isn’t, in the larger context of things, particularly important. Instead of making a metaphysical rebuttal, the ice cream man simply asks Bird what greater contribution a DJ makes to humanity.
Alan Bird eventually discovers that his broadcast antics do make a contribution to something beyond advertiser revenues: he meets an elderly woman in a hospital who tells him that he brings a smile into her life everymorning. What more could he desire? Similarly, ice cream brings joy into people’s lives. It may not be the sort of joy that induces raptures or finds outlet in lyric poetry, but it can provide a moment or two of solace in a world dominated by disaster.
Bill Forsyth’s film will never attain the status of a classic–and even Academy Award nomination is doubtful–but like his previous films, Gregory’s Girl and Local Hero, it is sufficiently refreshing to be a minor consolation. Perhaps that doesn’t seem like a lot to expect from a film, but in the greater realm of filmdom, it is a tremendous task that Forsyth performs with wit, humor, and intelligence. cc