4 November 2003 | trpdean
A study of self-loathing does not make for a sympathetic movie
I had read two glowing reviews of this movie - but this is the sort of movie that requires you to be in sympathy with the characters. And it's a failure. I liked only one of the characters (the mother), simply pitied another (the eight year old girl), found one tiresome (the middle sister) and another (the eldest) hateful.
One of the most striking things about this movie is how easily some without any struggle for life can find ways to make themselves miserable: by cursing strangers, committing rape, behaving abominably toward their family, agonizing over a slight setback in a career -- or loathing their race or body.
What a study of self-obsession this movie is - and it makes it impossible to care about these characters.
When one character is arrested by the police, of course our feeling is relief, we feel "throw the book at her - make her serve decades in prison" and yet I'm not sure the director wanted the audience to experience such loathing of a character whose awful conduct we've been forced to watch for so long.
There's absolutely no consideration of others shown by these characters - whether it is a woman fornicating with a stranger just after she has supposedly had a difficult break-up (so we assume that she is lying that she ever cared for the person - particularly since we aren't shown at all she cared - but why IS she lying?)
-- or a wife raping a young boy --
or another calling a complete stranger a "pig".
In fact, one of the striking things about these characters is how frequently these well-off people call strangers names - "bitch" and "bastard" and "pig" and "repulsive".
If one index of whether a character is likable is that they care for others, it is only the older woman (and to some extent the 8 year old) who appear to give any thought at all to making others happier. From the others, we see only lust and vanity and self-loathing, anger and ambition. I'd never want to run into any member of the younger generation of these characters. They're just loathsome. Yet if a viewer reacts this way to them, it feels that he or she won't like the movie.
In fact, I find it a quite depressing thing that some reviewers do feel the characters represent them!
It's also terribly tedious and slow.
I had happily anticipated this - and hated it.