The Odd Life of Timothy Green
Sometimes I worry that I get a little too wrapped up in pencils. After all, it is an occupational hazard, and my belief that a pencil is the key to limitless possibility is pretty well documented. I’m always heartened, therefore, when I find like-minded people who are as enamored with a pencil as I am. It would appear that Peter Hedges, writer-director of “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” is a kindred spirit.
“The Odd Life of Timothy Green” which takes place in the fictional town of Stanleyville, Indiana, concerns a childless couple who have given up on their dreams of ever having a child on their own. Over a bottle of wine one night, the couple writes down all their hopes and wishes for their dream child, using a vintage pencil. They then bury the wishes and the pencil in the backyard, and after a torrential storm, a lovely child named Timothy Green appears on their doorstep.
Pencils play an important role in the film, which charts the love and wisdom that Timothy brings both to his parents and the people around him. Stanleyville is called “The Pencil Capital of the World,” and is home to both a pencil factory and a pencil museum, where dad and mom are employed, respectively. One of their wishes for their dream child is that he will be “Picasso with a pencil,” a skill that Timothy uses to melt the heart of mom Cindy’s stone-faced boss. And, of course, it is the planting of a pencil that brings Timothy into being, and a pencil that helps Timothy save the town’s faltering economy.
While I might argue the film’s supposition that the pencil business is suffering, given this article about the recent spike in pencil sales world-wide, I do agree with dad Jim’s line that, “With a pencil, anything is possible.” With a stroke of a pencil and a flick of the eraser, a pencil lets you inhabit the world in a way that tablets, PCs and and other digital detritus never can. It’s a medium for endless possibility and magic, one that the makers of “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” have captured to wondrous effect.