Ugh. I really really really did not like this movie. And if you haven’t seen it, I do not recommend that you do. But if you like movies with nudity and language and disturbing implied violence and described aberrant sexual behavior and onscreen sexual activity and the breakdown not only of one man’s marriage but of his deeply held belief in the sanctity of marriage itself, then you probably shouldn’t keep reading, because there are going to be spoilers.
But hey, the acting is really good.
In my favorite part of the movie, the main character throws his copy of A Farewell to Arms out the window, then wakes his parents up in the wee hours to rant about how terrible the ending of that book is. And while I absolutely agree with him that that book’s ending is bleak in the extreme, I would argue that the ending to this movie is every bit as dark as A Farewell to Arms’. The dangerous thing is that it’s easy to recognize the unhappy ending of the book, but the movie would have you believe that IT has a happy ending. It doesn’t.
We are meant to celebrate the fact that the main character has finally gotten over his silly notion of wanting to better himself and reconcile with his wife, the thing that has motivated his positive attitude throughout the movie. He has guarded his chastity, literally running away from the occasion of sin in two instances that I found very charming.
But in the end we learn that what he really had was just a hang-up, and we get to see how he overcomes his devotion to his marriage in favor of liberating himself and hooking up with a woman whose mental health issues surpass even his own. The big happy ending is the two of them canoodling in an easy chair and we see that both of them have shaken off the past and taken off their wedding rings. Hers from her deceased husband, his from his very much still alive and still married to him wife. Hooray! And they lived happily ever after. That’s probably going to work out swimmingly.
No sense getting any violence or anger issues or sexual acting out or resistance to taking court-ordered medications sorted out. No, the important thing is to jump right in to a new and exciting relationship.
And, really, it could have gone either way right up to when it went the wrong way. Such a bummer.
I was really disappointed in this movie. But more so because I went into it with a big misconception.
When it came out in the theaters I wasn’t tempted at all to see it, I’m not sure I even noticed its existence. But then it popped up on a couple of blogs I like and I thought: Oh! People who write Catholic blogs like this movie. *I* also write a Catholic blog. Therefore I will probably like it since other people who write Catholic blogs must have the exact same standards I do for enjoying and recommending movies.
But, as it turns out I was making a you-know-what out of U and ME.
So, for future reference, the following is my policy for recommending movies on MY Catholic blog, but it probably doesn’t apply to other people’s Catholic blogs. . . .
I will watch and recommend movies with sex and violence and nudity and language, but only if I think that the movie’s message is worth exposing yourself to those things. And I’ll always warn you that they’re in there.
I will occasionally recommend movies that don’t have a great message but also don’t have objectionable content onscreen. For instance, I have enjoyed many of the recent spate of comic book-based movies. They may not conform to the magisterium, but they’re just fluff anyway.
I try never to watch and would never recommend a movie that purports to be important and challenging, but doesn’t get it mostly right on the issues.
And while I much prefer to watch a movie not knowing anything about the plot (as was the case with Silver Linings Playbook) I realize now that I just can’t afford to take other people’s word for stuff and not do the research myself. Nap time Doctor Who on Netflix notwithstanding, I watch almost no television now, and the husband and I only rarely get a chance to watch movies. So I want to make sure that what I am going to watch is worth the time it will take to do it. This movie did not fit the bill.
But . . . just in case you had plans to watch this very movie for this weekend and are now grumbling about how I’ve ruined date night . . . check back on Friday for seven movies I love for grownups.
But until then, you can check out this post, which has some movies I liked (and some I didn’t).