Last night, something happened that rarely happens at my house these days. I actually watched two very new movies that were actual theatrical releases. This is kind of a big deal, since I usually don’t watch silver screen films until they’ve been out for awhile. Last time I went to an actual movie theater was in 2018. That was to see Bohemian Rhapsody.
Before that, my last visit to a movie theater was in 2011, when Bill and I whimsically decided to see Midnight in Paris while we were vacationing in Maine. We only did that because I was having intractable back pain that made me less interested in walking around Portland. So, after a visit to Soakology (a foot soaking place that was awesome!), we stopped by the movie theater and watched Woody Allen’s flick. I really enjoyed it, plus the foot soak actually made my back feel much better.
I didn’t go to a theater last night. Come on, now, I’m home alone… and far be it for me to get in my car and actually go somewhere. 😉 (Actually, when I was single, I did frequently go out on my own… but I’ve changed my ways. It’s not that I’m afraid– it’s more that I don’t see the point of going out and wandering around alone. Plus, now I have dogs to keep me company.). However, I did download four new films, and I actually watched two of them last night. Both were a bit depressing, yet I still enjoyed them.
The first movie I watched was The Whale, starring Brendan Fraser, Hong Chau, Ty Simpkins, and the fantastic Sadie Sink. I had never seen Sadie Sink before, because I am one of the few people who doesn’t watch Stranger Things. She is quite an amazing young talent. She reminds me of McKenna Grace, who is a few years younger. Both Sadie Sink and McKenna Grace are from Texas, and both have serious acting chops, especially for their ages. Actually, as I watched Sadie last night, I was also reminded of Kirsten Dunst.
The Whale was poignant and profound on many levels to me. There’s Brendan Fraser, a man who made many films based on his good looks, portraying Charlie, a morbidly obese, reclusive, online college English professor who doesn’t show his face on screen. He’s a very good and patient teacher, but he has serious personal issues to include a deadly eating disorder.
He has a nurse friend named Liz, played by Hong Chau, who comes to see him. Liz was adopted by the leaders of a religious cult who rejected her when she rejected the cult. When a missionary named Thomas from the cult visits Charlie, whose obesity has led to congestive heart failure, Liz doesn’t react well. Charlie is near death, and Thomas thinks he needs God. Liz disagrees vehemently. As time passes, the characters evolve, and we get the heartbreaking backstory for both.
But the really amazing character, to me, anyway, is Charlie’s daughter, 17 year old Ellie, played by Sadie Sink. Ellie is beautiful and intelligent, and she’s flunking out of school. Charlie is desperate to reunite with her before he dies. His ex wife, Mary (Samantha Morton), has kept Ellie away. Charlie left Mary and Ellie when Ellie was eight years old, because he was gay, and in love with another man. So, aside from paying child support to Mary and occasionally hearing the odd snippet about Ellie, he has no relationship with her. But he has over $120,000 saved to give her.
Ellie is a complex character on so many levels. Naturally, because I’m married to a man whose daughters were alienated from him, I have a perspective of this situation that other viewers might not have. Of course, Bill didn’t leave his ex wife for me, nor is he gay, morbidly obese, or reclusive. But he does have a daughter he would love to see again someday, and he has another daughter who reconnected and will probably be the sole recipient of an inheritance from him.
I don’t want to write more about this movie, because I really think it’s a film that should be viewed with few spoilers. I’m glad I took the time to watch it. I have so much respect for Brendan Fraser for taking on this incredible role. His prestige has climbed a few notches for pulling off this character so convincingly. If you have the means to see The Whale, and don’t mind sad movies, I recommend it wholeheartedly. Especially if you were an English major.
The second movie I watched was Alice, Darling, which stars Anna Kendrick, Kaniehtiio Horn, Wunmi Mosaku, and Charlie Carrick. I was less into Alice, Darling, than The Whale. Generally speaking, I like Anna Kendrick’s work. I saw her in her debut, 2003’s Camp, and she immediately impressed me. This film is a drama that moves a little slowly, although it’s a story that a lot of people will identify with easily.
Anna plays Alice, a woman whose artist boyfriend, Simon (Carrick) is emotionally abusive. Her friends, Tess (Horn) and Sophie (Mosaku), know Simon is abusive. They’ve seen Alice change, becoming a shell of herself. The women decide to go on a week’s retreat at Sophie’s family’s cabin in the woods, staging sort of an intervention. The premise is Sophie’s birthday, but Alice has to lie to Simon in order for him to reluctantly let her go without a fight.
Over the course of the week, the women hang out, sing songs, drink, have bonfires, and relax. Slowly, we see Alice start to change back into who she was, after gentle encouragement from her friends… until Simon unexpectedly shows up with groceries and tries to pull Alice back into his abusive web of deceit. Alice has good friends, though, and they’ve got her back… and Alice also has a good head on her shoulders as she slips out of the FOG.
Alice, Darling is another movie that speaks to me, mainly because of Bill, who was also married to a narcissistic emotional abuser. Because of his previous marriage, I’ve gotten pretty good at spotting narcissism and relationship abuse tactics. Abusive people pretty much have a playbook that they all seem to go by, more or less. Abuse can take many forms. Simon doesn’t physically abuse Alice; his abuse is more insidious, because it’s not immediately obvious to the eye. But, eventually, it’s plain to see what he’s doing, and it’s easy to see how hard it is for Alice to break out of that predicament. Fortunately, they weren’t married and didn’t have children.
I read that some men who have seen Alice, Darling are also speaking up about their experiences with emotional abuse. I think that’s a good thing, since many people seem to believe that men can’t be abused. I’ve seen it firsthand. Unfortunately, not everyone who is the victim of an abuser has friends like Alice does. In fact, abusers try very hard to isolate their victims, so they are abandoned by people who love and care about them. It happened to Bill, and viewers can see it happening to Alice, too.
As I mentioned up post, I didn’t enjoy Alice, Darling as much as I did The Whale. It’s not because of the story, which I think is well worth sharing. I think the reason I liked this film less is because I didn’t feel like the women meshed as friends. There was no chemistry. I didn’t get the sense of a realistic bond among the three of them, so there weren’t really any profound magic moments in this film that made it feel special. The actors were all very competent.
I was actually very impressed with Wummi Mosaku, who brought a lovely maternal vibe to her character, Sophie. I liked Kaniehtiio Horn, too, in her role. But Mosaku and Horn didn’t seem like they would be friends… nor did they seem legitimately connected to Kendrick, either individually, or within their group. So, it wasn’t that believable to me that these women would try to rescue Alice from Simon. Maybe with different actors, this film would seem more profound and plausible.
I thought Charlie Carrick did a good job portraying an abusive asshole artist. But again, I just couldn’t really see him with Kendrick. They also didn’t seem to have much of a bond, that would make them seem like an actual couple. I think Kendrick does better when she’s playing strong characters. I read that she was also in an abusive relationship, which made her want to take this role. But, in spite of that personal history she has off screen, it doesn’t seem to translate to me when I see her as Alice. To me, she doesn’t come off as a meek, vulnerable, victim type, even though she’s very petite, and looks like she might be easy to control if you don’t hear her speak.
Anyway, I didn’t hate Alice, Darling, and I think it covers an important topic. I just think it would have been better with another cast.
I don’t know if I’ll watch movies tonight. I think today, I might try to make some music videos. I got a very nice comment from a Dutchman in France last night, so that’s encouraging and inspiring. Besides, it’s been a week, and I need to play with my new recording gear.
By the way… I got my new HomePod yesterday, and I hooked it up to the TV. Gotta say, that makes a big difference in the sound quality, which is probably why I decided to watch movies in the first place. I think I might order another one for our other big TV. Maybe we might actually watch it more often, if I did that. 😀