Thumbsucker

Quirky comedy. A teen kid struggles to overcome his insecurities around his family, friends and schoolmates that is exemplified in his leftover habit from childhood of thumbsucking. This movie breaks the traditional story structure rules and focuses a bit more on character than story, but is ultimately a very interesting tale that left me thinking about it for days. The main point of the story is incarnate in the “mentor” character of the kid’s dental surgeon, played ironically by Keanu Reeves. The kid tries all these different ways to stop his habit, from hypnotism, to taking drugs for ADD, which is one of the funniest and profound elements of the story. The kid realizes that the drugs are just another fake solution to our human condition, which is really an indictment against the medical model of psychiatry that dominates our culture.

But the story goes farther than this. After the kid has tried all these means of stopping his habit, and has not been able to do so, the dentist meets with him again and tells him his previous theory was all wrong and apologizes for it. He then concludes with a monologue expressing the theme of the film that we really don’t have the answers to the human condition and each of our theories and attempts are just our confused way of wandering through life trying to find our way. Although this is ultimately existentialism in its cynical view of truth and rejection of solutions to the human condition, there is a big grain of truth in it that connects with me. While I believe that there is absolute truth, I don’t think that as humans, we have absolute or certain knowledge of it outside of faith. And even having a connection to God doesn’t guarantee absolute or certain experience of victory over our problems. Our understanding of God is often wrong in so many different ways as well. This doesn’t mean truth is undiscoverable or that we should not seek to find answers, but merely that we need to be more cautious in our pursuits of claiming certainty and have a willingness to consider the remote possibility that, yes, we might actually not have it all right.

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