Sunday, October 07, 2007

I enjoyed it. Is that a good thing?

Made an effort to finally see The Brave One. This film has been out for more than a month and received uniformly good reviews, so I wanted to catch it at the theater, before it goes to DVD.

It's a vigilante drama with a highly relateable heroine. Jodie Foster's Erica is smart, a serious broadcaster who loves New York and discusses it weekdays on NPR. She's healthy and happy, with a loving doctor fiance, a wedding to plan, and a beautiful dog named Curtis. And she's little. This last one struck a particular chord with me because I'm 5'2 -- and that's if I'm on my toes.

She becomes the victim of a horrible, violent crime. It destroys her life and devastates her soul. She tries to get past it, but how exactly does anyone do that? Can anyone do it? Or does unimaginable tragedy leave us forever changed … and changed into what?

As you can tell by the trailers, Erica becomes something of a vigilante. But, unlike Travis Bickle or Charles Bronson, she doesn't enjoy it. She's compelled to avenge the violent crime she encounters, even seeks out, but she's surprised and appalled by what she's done. At one point she asks, "Why doesn't someone stop me?"

Similarly, I was disgusted by the cathartic thrill I got when she took out those who "deserve" to go. Intellectually, I understand how wrong her actions are. We are a nation of laws. The criminal justice system works more often than it doesn't -- and it can't work at all without the support of our citizens. No one has the right to play judge, jury and God. I know all that. I believe all that.

But I am also a short, pudgy, middle-aged woman who works in a major city … a wonderful city that I love. I get frightened and intimidated, especially if find myself on the el after rush hour. (Something I work hard to avoid.) I keep hearing how Chicago is safer and that violent crime as down, just as Erica often reminds us about her beloved New York. So why do I still feel vulnerable? Is it smart self-preservation that fuels the fear? Or is it paranoia? And what to make of the thrill I got watching Erica switch into vigilante mode?

This movie is serious, not exploitive. The issues it raises are real. But, like Erica after that horrible night in the park, I don't know what to do with the feelings it inspired.

Unconscious Mutterings #12

I say ... and you think ... ?

  1. Cluster :: headache
  2. Announcement :: morning announcements over the old PA system at my high school
  3. Respect :: Aretha
  4. Incident :: "There were incidents and accidents, there were hints and allegations." (Paul Simon)
  5. Accordion :: "Lady of Spain"
  6. Drunk :: Ow! Hangover!
  7. If :: " If I fell in love with you, would you promise to be true?" (Beatles)
  8. Dexter :: Showtime series (I keep meaning to rent the DVD)
  9. Wedding :: singer
  10. Gambling :: boat
For more information, or to play along yourself, visit Unconscious Musings.