Editor’s Note: MAJOR FRICKIN’ SPOILERS FOLLOW. DO NOT READ THIS UNLESS YOU WANT SPOILAGE.

But maybe do read it because I chortled repeatedly and I still want to see this thing.

I don’t want to give out a ton of spoilers for a movie, but I really can’t discuss my feelings about it without getting into the shocking plot twists, of which there are many. In fact, even the movie I’d liked to compare it to would give away the game if I mentioned it. So, this first paragraph is spoiler-free and I’ll try to tell you if you should see it or not. It’s well-acted, the plotting is good, well-directed, all that. The story itself is a huge mixed bag. The first half had me pretty much nodding my head, tapping my foot to its melody, going “I wonder where they’re going with this.” Then the second half happened and I was more like “Oh. So that was where they were going with that. Oh-kay…”

So, to start off, the premise–and even this is spoilery–is that a depressed young woman is prescribed a new drug. One of the side effects is sleep-walking, and in one of these episodes, she kills her husband. So alright: who’s responsible for this? The drug company? Her doctor? Her? What would the real-world fall-out be of this interesting scenario?

And you know, I didn’t care for Contagion, the last film from Steven Soderbergh, because it seemed like it was just a training video for employees at some dull anti-plague company. I know a lot of people liked that it wasn’t all Hollywood-y and didn’t have character arcs or themes or stuff happening, but that’s actually why I go to the movies. “WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF THERE WERE A DEVASTATING PLAGUE?” “It would eventually be cured and things would pretty much go back to normal, minus Gwyneth Paltrow.” “Okay… not sure that needed two hours.”

Here, I think that approach would be warranted. I want to see the corporate lawyers and the spin-doctors and the special-interests groups all duking it out and making some right-hook thematic point about prescription medication in America. Yeah! Hell yeah! Let’s do this!

Then it turns out that Rooney Mara wasn’t sleep-walking, wasn’t depressed, and it was all a sexy murder plot to kill her husband and make a lot of money. So, yeah, basically Basic Instinct. It’s like a Godzilla movie where they spend an hour tracking the monster and preparing the giant robots and evacuating people and trying to convince the Mayor that the city’s in trouble, then it turns out that there was no Godzilla and that it’s all a hoax and the rest of the movie is about a detective trying to catch the guys.

Only at least that Godzilla example would be subversive. Here, it feels like they took the “what if a drug made you kill someone?” plot as far as the writer could think, hit the forty-five minute mark, said “Well, now what?”, and settled on the most obvious, first draft idea you’d imagine.

And you know, if Steven Soderburgh, one of our greatest living directors, wants to do a stealth remake of every 80s erotic thriller on Cinemax, that’s cool. But in your Basic Instinct and your Fatal Attraction there’s at least a base level of critique against the male protagonist. Sure, the woman is a killer whore, but if the man did his job professionally and stayed true to his wedding vows that wouldn’t be an issue. Here, it’s just Jude Law, doing his job and being nice about it. The film doesn’t seem to be arguing “be true to your wife” so much as “every psychologist should studiously investigate every patient in case it turns out they’re embarking on an elaborate murder plot.” Which I feel is a less universal theme.

It gets worse from there. As it turns out, Rooney Mara killed her husband because he got busted by the FBI for insider trading and stopped buying her cars–so there’s not even a sympathetic or interesting motivation there, she’s just a greedy bitch–and she got help from her old psychologist to plan the scheme. Her old psychologist who she seduced. And who is a woman.

Yup.

So Rooney Mara and Catherine Zeta-Jones are in this lesbian murder plot together. I have to imagine this conversation happening.

Rooney Mara: Babe, I want a luxurious lifestyle. Let’s have me spend four years being faithful to my jailed husband, then I’ll pretend to be depressed and after I get into a car crash which hopefully doesn’t kill or paralyze me, we’ll take incriminating photos that’ll make it appear as if I’m fucking the psychologist assigned to me. Before we use those photos, I’ll ask for a new drug from him, and you’ll take out stock market things that will make us rich if that drug fails. Then, while I’m on that drug, I’ll kill my husband and say it’s because of that drug, hoping that action star Channing Tatum can’t overpower my 98-pounds of emo muscle. We’ll also hope that the jury buys that the drug made me do it and lets me cop a not-guilty by reason of insanity plea, then that I get out of the insane asylum in a reasonable timeframe.

Catherine Zeta-Jones: Wouldn’t it be a lot less risky to just cut him up or seriously wound him while “under the influence”? The stocks would still plummet, but you wouldn’t be facing a murder charge. Or I could just be your lesbian sugar momma. I’m a psychologist and, as the first half of the movie made clear, psychologists can make a ridiculous amount of money by participating in pharmaceutical studies. As the plot says that I am doing.

Rooney Mara: No, I’m just crazy enough to HAVE TO MURDER HUSBAND, but still sane enough to be the bad guy.

So that all happens. Then the second half of the movie becomes Jude Law, square-chinned family man, abusing his status as Rooney Mara’s psychologist to turn the tables. You know, assigning her drugs she doesn’t need, faking psychologist tests, threatening her with electroshock therapy. Not to mention the fact that he was fooled by her depressed act to begin with, so even if he proves they’re guilty, I’m not sure he should be practicing medicine. And not to be all Tumblr on y’all, but given the history of lesbians being committed to mental asylums for their sexuality, this is all some really hinky subtext. (Not that Rooney Mara is a lesbian so much as one of those megafucking homicidal maniacs that only exist in movies.)

It’s like that feeling you get when Steven Spielberg does Amistad, so you think “Well, this guy must care about African-Americans.” Then he produces Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, with the blackface-bots, and you’re like “Huh. Guess not.” We all thought Haywire was this big feminist statement, then this movie comes out and it’s like “Oh, lesbian whore murderers. Okay.”

So I guess the moral here is “If you have to chance to have Catherine Zeta-Jones be your lesbian sugar momma, take it. I mean, did you see The Mask of Zorro, fucker?”

  • You make valid points but I still found the movie enjoyable and I honestly didn’t expect the twist