Whip It

Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut about a young girl in a small town in Texas who desires to get out from under her mother’s stifling expectations for her so she can do what she has discovered she really wants: Roller derby! Starring Ellen Page as Bliss Cavender, this story, as with all Barrymore’s stories, is a women’s empowerment narrative about women needing to come out from under oppressive social norms for their roles.

Ellen’s mom, played by Marcia Gay Hardin, is molding her two daughters to be beauty pageant queens just like herself. This of course doesn’t fit for Bliss, but she goes along to make mom happy until she finds what she really loves to do, roller derbying, which causes the turmoil. Bliss accuses mom of shoving her small town “50s morality” (an obvious reference to the traditional gender roles and family notions) down her throat. But what makes this more than a simplistic feminist fairytale is when a fellow roller derby queen challenges Bliss that she is being selfish and that her mom may be wrong about roller derby, but she cares for Bliss and is only trying to help her, and that mom’s rules are for her own good, NOT because she wants to hurt her or control her – that there is value to what her mother thinks. The mom and dad are actually happily married and even frisky, thus showing such “traditional” marriage as mostly positive.

There are no strong men characters in this movie, illustrating a female gender bias in the viewpoint. The roller derby coach is a loony obsessed with exercise and acting like a pothead with a few screws loose. Bliss’s very first rock and roll boyfriend turns out to be a womanizer, and the announcer of the roller derby is a loser horny toad always failing to get laid. Bliss’ dad, played by Daniel Stern, is a stereotypical couch potato sports fan who follows mom’s lead instead of being a leader in the family. He is too weak to face mom about her contempt for sports so he watches the football game by lying to her that he is staying late at work. He pretty much cow tows to her until the end, when he is the first one to support Bliss and takes the lead by pulling Bliss out of the big pageant and bringing her to the roller derby. So his leadership is portrayed as good when supportive of Bliss’ desires.

So this film seems to prioritize the individual’s dreams without negating the value of family. The collective family and the individual member can get along and balance each other’s interests.

Zombieland: Love in the Post-Apocalypse

We got to talking about this on the Hollywood Worldviews Group, and I watched it again. So here is the post I wrote on it a while back, with a couple additions.

A standard zombie storyline about a few living humans trying to survive after most of America is overrun with a zombie apolcalypse after a virus outbreak.

Particularly, it is the story of Columbus, a kid who is trying to get to his home town in Ohio to see if any of his family has survived. Along the way, he picks up loner, Woody Harrelson and a couple of girls, one with which he falls in love.

The story follows Columbus as a young nerd who has managed to survive by following “rules,” of survival such as good cardio (to outrun the zombies), always check back seats of cars, always wear seatbelts and “double tap” (always make sure to shoot a zombie in the head to finish him off for sure), and never be a hero, it gets you killed. The point being that these are all rules of self protection because Columbus is living fearfully in life and unwilling to take a risk. Zombies are the metaphor for what we become when we become loners in this world to protect ourselves. Everyone avoids personal names because they don’t want to get too involved in case they have to kill them as zombies later. So everyone goes by the name of the town they come from.

When he meets Witchita, the girl he falls for, she draws him out to take risks like not wearing a seatbelt. Turns out she likes bad boys, so Columbus tries to rise to the occasion. Of course, he comes to realize his family is not alive so he makes this new group his family as he says in voiceover. This seems to be a metaphor for leaving behind traditional notions of family in a corrupted world.

But in the finale, the boys and girls split up, but Columbus realizes that he has to “go after the girl,” to seek her out by putting aside his fears and self protection and ultimately says, “Some rules you gotta break such as ‘don’t be a hero,'” and he becomes a hero by saving the girls and ultimately his ability to love. And of course, the girl whispers her real name in his ear at the end, signifying that they make the human connection needed to love another person.

Columbus becomes a man by putting aside his desire to survive and self protection and by risking himself sacrificially for another. Sacrifice over survival, but no real sense of danger in the entire movie.

Two Lovers

Joaquin Phoenix plays Leonard, a Jewish guy who, on the verge of suicide by rejection of his fiancé, simultaneously falls for two women at once: One, a carefree existential live-for-the-moment Gentile girl upstairs and a nice plain jane no make-up good Jewish girl. This seems to be a blatant parable about the universal ubiquitous inner struggle in all men, that fantasy temptation that is ever present to “give it all up” or “throw it all away” for the exciting, the romantic, the dangerous, instead of choosing the safe, security of a woman of good character. The Gentile, played by Gwyneth Paltrow, is a drug addled mindless partying adulteress who, like most adulteresses foolishly pines for her adulterer to leave his family, believing that he will then be faithful to her. But none of this matters to Leonard, because she incites his passion with her existential living for the moment. There’s just something about the power of passion when you “follow your heart.” Meanwhile, the plain Sandra, played by Vinessa Shaw, is kind, gentle, devoted and stable and has the proper family connections for tradition. Leonard fornicates with both women, making it that much harder for him to see clearly. At the last moment, Leonard chooses to throw it all away and run away with the Gentile, but is stopped at the last moment when she throws it all away to return to her faithless adulterer after he leaves his wife. This is what you get when you choose a life of throwing it all away for a passionate feeling, you lose it all. The movie leaves one with a strong sense of disatisfaction as Leonard is able to return then to the “woman of character” without her even knowing his failed choice, as he then gives her the wedding ring he had bought for the adulterer. It’s like a consolation prize of passionless yet stable life. I think it would be a truer reality if Leonard had lost both of the women. Of course, one could argue, that he was entering into his own punishment of inauthenticity. When we make bad choices of character we reap the consequences of an inability to know real love. This story seems to indicate that when you follow your heart and seek for passion instead of character, you miss out on real life.


Romantic Comedy. A family man discovers a magical “universal remote” that allows him to fast forward through undesirable parts of his life. But tragedy strikes when the remote gets stuck and he can’t stop it from fast forwarding all the way to his old age. This is a brilliant touching story that made me deeply consider my own life and the things that I neglect now that I will regret at the end of life. I absolutely love these movies that do this to me. They take you to face death so you reevaluate what you are doing with your life. Too crude for kids, but some very poignant truths about the simply profundity of smelling the roses of life and making family important in your life choices.

Take the Lead

Social issue dramedy. Antonio Banderas plays a Ballroom Dance instructor who tries to help inner city delinquent students to learn self-respect by teaching them ballroom dancing. This was a very rich story, full of hope and redemption for wayward youth. On one level, it is refreshing to see the discipline, hard work and beauty of Ball Room Dancing invade the undisciplined ugly environment of modern high school culture. It has the predictable lead student struggling between choosing a criminal life on the streets and the good life of accomplishing something through the dance competition. But so what. It still worked.

I enjoyed seeing the clash of cultures with Antonio’s polite manners being quaint anachronisms in the “modern liberated” egalitarian tyranny of public schools. Yet his politeness is shown to be superior to the lack thereof and even desired. A young kid picks up from him the lost art of opening doors for women. This of course is sexist patriarchal condescension to a feminist or egalitarian. But in this story, it’s goodness. And the burnt out woman principle played by the always lovely Alfre Woodard, jumps at the chance to do a dance with Antonio, even though every one else is questioning his program of dance for the kids. Even the teachers think it’s all just play and fun and the kids, who are in this class for detention, should be learning their math and doing homework.

Yet, Antonio explains to them how dancing teaches respect and dignity between people. Although it’s interesting that never once does he use the word discipline. It was almost like the filmmakers were trying to make a movie about discipline, but were still carrying residue from a politically correct worldview that just won’t admit to certain concepts like discipline and punishment. So, rather than being the hard strong Coach Carter, Antonio woos his students and persuades them. Well, this works well in fiction, but I question its efficacy in real life, and wonder what the real Pierre Dulaine (That Antonio plays) really was like. The filmmakers personal agendas most likely revised that history. But just the same, Antonio does tell the parents who are blameshifting their troubles, “Assigning blame is easy. Parent, environment, but it doesn’t make a problem go away.” True enough, indeed.

There is also a moment when a girl complains about the man taking the lead as making him “the boss,” and Antonio tells her “no,” she is the one who chooses to accept, to follow and is therefore not really being “led.” Well, okay, there’s definitely some truth to that, but you can’t help but think they are yet again trying to avoid the obvious patriarchal essence of male leadership that the very name of the movie, TAKE THE LEAD, implies. But of course, actions speak louder than words.

One thing bothered me though and that is the sexuality of the Tango that was used to inspire the kids. We see that their street dancing is sensual and erotic and they think that ball room is for old foggies. But then Antonio shows them a Tango with a dance queen and they see that it can be just as erotic in a classy way. The problem is that teens should not be sexualized so young and yet youth culture is so heavily sexualized that teens are being spiritually and psychologically raped and they don’t even realize it until they grow up and their screwed up relationships illustrate that they “grew up” too fast. Of course, like Antonio’s character, this very thought of mine is so anachronistic and old fashioned as to be laughable by the deluded modern mind. But it nonetheless remains the answer to the problem, just as his dancing was the unlikely catalyst of redemption.

Also, some of the humanistic worldview of individualism kept trying to creep in and recast the meaning. For instance, Antonio explains to the parents about his leading of the principle in a dance, “If she allows me to lead, she’s more than trusting me, she’s trusting herself.” Boy does that make any sense? He tells another kid, “You need to dance for yourself, not anybody else.” And to another, “Having courage to follow your heart is what makes you human.” All very beautiful half-truths. Of course on one level, kids do need to learn that following their peers or living to please peer pressures etc. is not cool. But I would recommend “doing the right thing” is freedom, believing the truth is freedom, and both those things often do not reside in our “selfs” or our hearts, which tend toward selfishness.

Memoirs of a Geisha

Romantic epic. Actually, the story of a high class call girl who finds love. A Japanese version of Pretty Woman? An interesting film, a very sad and tragic story. As I watched this story, I could not help but think how riled up multiculturalists would be at this injustice of slavery of women. And yet, what a major hypocrisy and how imperialistic it would be (according to their own standards) to criticize the Japanese culture for how they organize their male female relationships differently than we do in the West. Who are we to criticize another culture they say – unless of course, it is THEY who are criticizing a culture that THEY do not like – then it is all of a sudden okay to criticize what is otherwise sacred. Such hypocrisy betrays the truth that there is an absolute morality that is NOT a social construct that is relative to cultures. Sure, applications of morality may be relative, like what constitutes modesty, but things like murder or slavery are not justifiable on any cultural paradigm because there is an absolute standard that judges all our little standards. Of course, by Christian standards Geisha lifestyle is immoral objectification and prostitution of women, but one would have to confess Christianity to have the only valid means of criticizing it. Try as they may to justify it, the Japanese culture reveals its reduction of women to objects of male gratification when they say, “Geisha means artist. And to be a Geisha is to be judged as a moving work of art,” or “We sell our skills, not our bodies.” “With those eyes, you must be a great commodity.” “You must be able to stop a man with a single look.” I couldn’t help but think of the statement that a man must have made high heels for women because they hurt so much, when they would show the Geishas wearing their ridiculously high block sandals, an Eastern version of the high heels. And the “eel in the cave” story about sex for the young girls says it all, when the older woman explains to the young, that “every once in a while, a man’s eel likes to explore the woman’s cave.” Every once in a while? It’s really more like “all the time,” if we are honest, and of course that is the point, when they try to cover up the Geisha world as art and companionship and “not courtesanship” they are self-deceiving. The line “I want a life that is mine,” that the heroine expresses because she has fallen in love with someone other than her paying customers, and the response of her mentor, “We become Geishas because we have no choice” is no doubt the feminist egalitarian heart of the story, but feminists and egalitarians should still be angry because of this: The end of the story is the girl fulfilling her dreams of being the “long term” prostitute of a particular man (I don’t remember the fancy euphemism in Japanese that they use). This was a man who gave her a moment of grace in the midst of her miserable life. A man who gave her a snow cone when she was crying in the street as a little girl. This man would be the one she would do everything in her life to be with, “until I am his,” as she says, “Every step I have taken has been to be near you.” Well, that’s romantic and all, but then she explains as they walk away in the Eastern sunset that she is his long term Geisha, which isn’t as much as being a wife, but hey, it’s what she strove for etc. Well, this is still slavery to multiculturalists, but who are THEY to criticize another person’s choices or culture? Well, I would say that biblically, it is very unsatisfying in the story precisely because IT IS NOT MARRIAGE. Only marriage can satisfy the longing for human love in this life, not mere sexual relationship, and that’s the truthful power of Western fairy tales and Romances. Marriage is the “ever after” because it rings with truth. Of course, because of our narcissistic humanism, we have destroyed marriage, but the ideal is still real even if we only experience varying shades of that reality because of our falleness. And you know, I actually appreciated the statements of the beauty of a woman as a work of art, because I think it is both true and natural that a woman is an object of beauty. I absolutely spend hours adoring my wife’s beauty. BUT I don’t believe that woman should be reduced to a mere object for the sheer convenience of men. THAT kind of reductionism is wrong. We are BOTH object AND person, not either/or. I would like to take a moment though to say that I think the Western fairy tale that makes a love between two people the redemption of life is also seriously untruthful. Another human person can be a contact point with transcendence, a human is touching the eternal, but even that is a shadow if it is not rooted in the eternal transcendent of the Living God. Many Western Romances are also forms of idolatry because they ignore the transcendent, they are salvations of immanence. But this world is not eternal, it is not infinite, only God is, so it is folly to suggest that human love is the ultimate. Human love is a self-deception of meaninglessness without the Love of God, the living God of love who gives meaning to our human love.

Walk the Line

Biopic of the famous/infamous Johnny Cash and his relationship with June Carter. Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon WILL receive nominations for Oscars and Reese WILL win the Oscar for her performance. This was an eminently interesting story about yet another tortured artist. Oh well, we are all somewhat tortured. I must confess the ubiquitous drug addiction that seems to be a part of so many celebrity stories is at once both pitiable and redundant. The subplot of Johnny’s incessant desire to please an unpleasable father who unabashedly and shamefully preferred Johnny’s dead older brother is a very universal pathos that rings with authenticity. Here we have a man who rose to the pinnacle of achievement with his music and his father still felt that it should have been Johnny who died in an accident rather than his brother. Even Johnny himself felt his brother, who was to be a preacher, was more deserving of life than he because of his “goodness.” This is the story of Cash’s redemption and finding his value through the heartfelt love of June Carter, which as I understand it, is precisely what Cash himself had affirmed in real life. Though it is one of those stories that shows a man in love with someone other than his wife, it seems to veer away from the typical Romantic elevation of feelings over duty. Even though the adultery did in fact occur, it shows June Carter very conflicted even to the point of walking away from the man she loves because of the moral inappropriateness. It shows her disdain for drugs and Johnny’s guilt behind his actions. It shows Cash seeking to do right, though faltering in that quest, like all of us. What I did not like about the film was twofold. First, I did not care for the celebration of rebellion that comes through. In one sense, Cash realizes that he must find someone to identify with and criminal prisoners seem to be that person. His Folsom Prison Blues is the theme song of the piece. Okay, that’s fine that he finds some redemption in reaching out to these men. But the way he reaches out in the music of the movie is to identify and celebrate their depravity. The songs he sings, at least what words I could catch, were not redemptive but celebratory of criminal misery. Now, on the one hand, this is not a problem IF you also show the redemptive songs he may have sung, like his Gospel tunes, but in fact, this is not done, his entire Gospel songs repetoire is virtually ignored, which results in more of a rock and roll exultation of rebellion than a redemptive identification. And that brings me to the bigger thing I hated about this story: The lack of Cash’s central defining characteristic, his spiritual quest with Christianity. Christianity was alluded to in several moments of the film, but it was essentially a defining aspect of his identity that was relegated to near irrelevance. There are only a couple moments of his faith in the film and most are negative. At the end, when Cash cleans up his life, we see June take him to church in a moralistic context. We see June reacting to Cash’s immorality but more out of moralism than out of her faith, which we are never really introduced to except through a quick reference to her parents. What we are not shown is how she came out of a very Gospel music background, which would be a defining element of her identity as well. Religion is minor in this story, and replaced with moralism, morality without real religious focus. Now, the other place it shows his “faith” is when he first broke in to recording. He sings a typical Gospel tune, and the recording producer tells him it isn’t unique. It isn’t genuine. Gospel is dead. They want something more authentic, something that comes out of his experience, out of his emotion and misery. The Producer tells him, “It ain’t got nothing to do with God, it’s about believing in yourself.” (humanism) So Johnny Sings Folsom Prison Blues, which interestingly DID NOT come out of his experience, and yet this is somehow considered more genuine. Cash’s music is, according to this movie, genuine when he believes in himself, not God. And when Johnny challenges the producer by saying, “You saying I don’t believe in God,” the answer is that it is not authentically from him which really means that his faith was not authentic. Maybe it wasn’t at that time. Fine. But the sense is that the faith he had was therefore never really authentic. And the rest of the move never really brings in his faith struggle throughout his misery years. So the overall conclusion the movie makes is that it was not really a defining element of his identity or his music. I have no problem with the crazy things he did, with his prodigal nature, but to virtually ignore the faith that was so much a part of everything he was in the midst of that prodigality is simply dishonest and manipulative. My claim is that if you don’t like his faith, fine, then DON’T TELL HIS STORY. Tell some other humanist’s story, or an atheist’s story. But it is lying revisionism to tell a man of faith’s story and virtually ignore his faith or relegate it to near irrelevancy. This ticks me off because it is so often done. Mark my words, the upcoming The New World movie about Pocohontas by Terence Malick, I bet you will also ignore Pocohontas’s Christianity or relegate it to the problem or flaw of the Western Culture that is imperialistic. Why do these people have to rape religious stories? Why can’t they tell their own stories? How would they feel if I wrote a story about Carl Sagan and ignored his science and atheism? Or how about a story about the founder of Greenpeace and I virtually ignored his love for nature and the earth? But of course this is the imperialistic nature of humanism, to retell the stories of Christianty in a naturalistic fashion, so that everything is explainable in terms of cultural or natural causes. Moralism, not Christian faith is the religion acceptable to humanism. I think that stories are so important and valuable that to deny the heart of someone’s identity in a story is narrative rape, especially when it comes to God in their life.

Pride and Prejudice

I am a fan of the BBC 5 hour adaptation, but I have to say, I was surprise and pleased with this one. It is a very well done 2 hour version, which is hard to do with all the relationships that have to be truncated for it to fit. But the language in this is wonderful, witty and eloquent. What can I say? I love words. Kiera Knightly as Elizabeth and Matthew MacFadyen as Mr. Darcy were very satisfying, despite Kiera’s beauty. What I liked so much about the BBC version was its authenticity of character and lack of Hollywood prettiness, but it didn’t bother me much here because Kiera is such a good actress. I also think that I may have appreciated this “short” 2 hour version because I may have unconsciously filled in the holes of the story from the BBC version so it is hard to be objective here. Nonetheless, this story of finding love in the midst of Victorian conventions is really uplifting and authentic. Although this story takes place in the Regency period prior to Queen Victoria, they are nevertheless culturally connected to the Victorian period. The plotline of fighting lovers may be a bit of a dangerous cliché but it works just fine for me here. Some people dislike Jane Austen stories because they have a disdain or contempt for aristocratic culture. But I think this misses the boat. I think Austen points up the good and bad of such a society. I think she shows that in fact some propriety is right (Liddy’s foolishness at eloping with Wickham, as well as sexuality saved for marriage) and others are wrong (Lady Catherine DeBerg’s aristocratic snobbery). She mocks the male pursuit of women as objects for their betterment in the Pastor Mr. Collins, and she elevates love over status in Darcy and Elizabeth. The argument that Victorian society (and its predecessors) was somehow hypocritical because it was moralistic and trying to force people to behave morally in public while they did not do so I private is naïve. Is it hypocritical to make laws against lying, cheating, stealing and killing because so many in society do not keep those laws? Of course not. We don’t have laws of proper behavior or social norms of proper behavior for the sake of the criminals, but the victims. It is the protection of society not the individual that propriety is for. It helps to foster a positive environment for the cultivation of good morals. It is not about forcing people to be good based on the delusion that they will then be good in private. Sure, some cultural conventions are wrong, but NOT ALL. And besides, what absolute cultural standard are you using to critique these social conventions? Is it merely your own social conventions? If not, then you have to admit that some social conventions that are in line with moral absolutes just as much as your claim that some may not be morally acceptable. I would argue with Austen that sex outside marriage is more than a Victorian cultural prejudice, it is an absolute biblical norm given by God that Victorian society sought to emulate and support. Nothing wrong with that. Aristocratic snobbery against the poor is not biblical and therefore wrong – just like Jane also argued in this story – as well as the modern version of it in this movie.


Existentialist romantic dramedy. Steve Martin has written a rather thoughtful piece here that seems deeply heartfelt and struggles with the issues of true love, transcendence and the ache of lonlieness in our existence. Claire Danes is a young woman who has to decide between an older man uninterested in comittment and intimacy, but wealthy and fun (Steve Martin), and a young poor artistic kid who grows up and seeks to give her the intimacy she longs for (Jason Schwartzman). Of course, she goes with the older man and experiences the fun, while the young man goes and finds himself and learns how to love by listening to hours of “relationship” lectures while being a roadie for a rock band. There is some rather pedantic narration in the film by Steve Martin that spells out the theme of Claire’s quest. He tells us she is seeking for some “omniscient” person to come down into her life and give her meaning and intimacy to quiet her lonlieness. She thinks the older man with his maturity can do this, but of course, he cannot connect with her as she needs. Claire ultimately realizes she can “hurt now or hurt later,” and finally chooses the young man who has by now transformed into more of a gentleman who has concern for making her happy. Knowing Steve Martin’s background in philosophy, and considering his line about the woman wanting someone “omniscient” to come down into her life (shot with a heavenly perspective, down through her sun roofed house), I can’t help but think that this is an existentialist parable about man’s quest for transcendence in deity, but his ultimate inability to find his real need for personal connection in that deity. Martin plays the mature father figure who is rich and has everything and bestows gifts as he wills upon Claire. He is benevolent, but distant, unable to truly connect on a personal heart level. The young man Claire opts for is a bit rough, earthly and human, but he can love her at her level, the human level. This is a common theme in humanist and existentialist literature. The belief that God is somehow distant and unable to fill our “human needs.” Thus only another human can meet that need, and thus, the highest love to these people is the romantic connection with a lover. This is certainly an understandable sentiment, and not altogether unforgivable, as man is indeed distant from God and cut off from the personal touch he was created to have. But this is the dilemma, the problem. It is the story of a blind man telling us there is no light or visual images, so we must accept our darkness. As heartfelt as this is, and even honest, I don’t buy it. God is personal, more personal and more intimate with us than we can even imagine. The fact that we are blind or limited in our finitude does not mean reality is subject to our ignorance. As a matter of fact, God did become the earthy, sweaty human in order to connect with us, in order to meet us on our level, in order to love us intimately and personally. He did this in his Son, Jesus Christ. John 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. He lived, he cried, he drank, he sweat, he bled and he died, all for his people, those who would believe on his name. And his resurrection was the very thing that established him as that transcendent omniscient being who could in fact come down and rescue us and give us meaning and intimacy that we long for. The problem with the existentialist is that he acknowledges man’s need for transcendence and deity, he just assumes there is none to meet that need. This is perhaps the saddest ignorance of all. Acts 17: 23-31 Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”

The Upside of Anger

Not really recommended. This is a movie about a woman, Joan Allen, and her four daughters whose father walks out on them for a secretary, and the woman is left to deal with her anger, while she falls for a washed up Baseball star played by Kevin Costner as he courts her with beer can firmly in hand, as both are drunks. The characters are eminently interesting, (except for their drunkenness), good acting and dialogue and great human drama. But the problem I have is it’s modernism in relationships as well as it’s basic lack of story. It is a family drama without much plot, so it would lose my interest. Oh, there’s some story with a daughter getting an ulcer from worrying about her lack of acceptance by the mom, and Costner pursuing Allen a little, and a subplot of an older guy dating one of the younger daughters. In an illuminating moment, the mother scolds the guy for such age abuse of dating a young girl. BUT SHE DOES NOTHING TO STOP IT. And when she catches them in bed, she just gets all flustered, BUT DOES NOTHING TO STOP IT. And worse, off, the filmmaker never portrays this as a weakness that is overcome or even realized. It is just part of life. One good moment is when the older guy responds to the mom that older women his age are not worth it because they aren’t grateful, but are selfishly obsessed with themselves and their agendas. Some good insights, but mostly piece-meal. Another problem is that the Costner character provides no real redemption and is himself a loser whose only quality is to recognize that when he is “With her and her girls, he knows everything is great and how it’s supposed to be.” Whoopy do. Like that is a great insight into love? Almost, but not quite. Rather than the motivation to be better people, this story’s understanding of love is a feeling of happiness or comfort or “fittedness.” This is a story that has great potential for meaningful significance, but never quite achieves it, yet captures some good human drama and conflict. The problem with this is the problem I have with so-called “realism.” Realism, with it’s modern elevation of dysfunction without redemption is used as a disguise for nihilism or humanistic cynicism. When a discovery is made and Joan realizes that she was wrong about everything she thought about her husband, the pseudo-wise young daughter narrates that the upside of anger is how it brought out who her mother really was or some kind of psychobabble, when in fact, her mother was a complete failure who did not learn her lesson and really just hurt others and herself because of her bitterness and anger, AND IT WAS ALL NECESSARILY WRONG because it was founded on a fallacy. So, really it should show how worthless and negative anger is in destroying or hurting lives, especially, when it is often wrong in its assumptions anyway. An opportunity for a profound insight into the nature of anger and how to be redeemed from it, was in my opinion, profoundly missed. GREAT acting though, too bad.