Let me start right off the bat and admit that i love this film.
People have commented on it being an snapshot of how it is in the USA these days and for parts i have to agree.
They even have a phrase in the film that the main character says that’s about the society he lives in in general, “It’s the same type of freak-show distraction that comes along every time a mighty empire starts collapsing.”
That line in-itself really sums up the feeling of this movie. A dystopian society that is collapsing within itself.
The main character is introduced as someone that is a fairly average person going about his day to day life. He neighbours, of which he shares a wall with, get on his nerves as they have screaming matches, a screaming child and the husband constantly blocks in his car every morning. His work colleagues are morons and his daughter, from a failed marriage, is turning into one of the people that he dislikes in the world. The one piece of happiness, besides his daughter, is what appears to be a budding relationship with the receptionist at his workplace.
Now here’s where things get interesting because it turns out that the woman he’s being friendly with gets him fired for sexual harassment and making a hostile environment. What they are demonstrating here is that acts of kindness, such as lending a book, or even just being friendly in the current American society is to be treated with suspicion and even disdain. Being friendly and ‘nice’ makes you the weird one, the social outcast.
After this though things just get worse for our reluctant, well i guess you could call him an ‘anti-hero’ really.
He has an appointment with a doctor, of whom we can assume is a brain specialist, as our AH has constant migraines and insomnia. The doctor then goes on to show him that he has an inoperable tumor in his head… then proceeds to answer his call mid consultation and starts to abuse someone on the other end with things such as, “.. im going to tear the cock off the giant purple Gorilla and shove that up your ass!” This shows the doctors disdain for not only his patients but for other people he has to deal with on a day to day basis.
On this note, Frank, our reluctant ‘anti-hero’ finds himself at home… with no job, screaming neighbours, a brain tumor that nothing can be done for and a daughter that wants nothing to do with him because he can’t spoil her. So he takes out a military service pistol from a lock-box, looks at a military service patch (it’s never explained if it’s his or perhaps his fathers or such), loads the pistol and puts it in his mouth ready to kill himself. Now i can completely feel the despair from this moment. It’s palpable. He’s lost everything and has nothing left… or so he thought.
As he has the gun in his mouth there’s a show on the TV in front of him showing a spoiled little rich girls, by the name of Chloe, birthday and birthday plans and how she reacts when her parents buy her the wrong car for her 16th birthday and he changes his mind. You can see the though cross his face, “she’s just mean”… and in that moment decides not to kill himself. Chloe saves his life, but in an unconventional way. In that moment he’s decided she doesn’t deserve to live.
Frank gets up, walks outside, finishes his beer and drops the empty bottle on his neighbours door step smashing it. He then steals his neighbours nice car and drives to the school where Chloe goes and parks in the woods watching and waiting.
Upon this time enters the other main character of the movie, of which her first line in the entire movie is, after finding Frank in the car in the woods watching the school through binoculars says, “Hey creepy. Isn’t the school girl thing a little played out?” in an almost deadpan manner. Frank ignores her and she walks off rolling her eyes. A number of steps later she turns around and through Franks binoculars we see her flip him off.
It’s not long after this that Frank finds his victim all alone and shoves her in the car with his gun pointing at her then she says, “If you want the car just take it. My parents got me the wrong one anyways.” To which Frank quips, “Yeah, that’s a fucking tragedy.” and handcuffs her to the steering wheel where she starts screaming. Frank then shuts the door, opens the fuel cap and shoves a rag in then lights it on fire and starts to walk off…but the wind blows the rag out of the tank and onto the ground. Frank tries to grab it to put it back in but people start arriving and notice the scene so in a panic Frank just shoots her in the head and runs off. Now the girl from the previous scene that saw him in the car sees Frank running off and when he passes her asks, “Did you just kill Chloe?” and when Franks doesn’t answer, turns to face the car with a dead Chloe and almost sighs the word, “Awesome!” like it was a relief to see that happen.
The movie then follows the path of Roxy, the girl that first found Frank in the woods. We find Frank in a hotel room in the motions of trying to kill himself again when Roxy starts knocking on his door. How she finds him we’re never told. She then convinces him not to kill himself and that he’s done a wonderful thing and explains that if he did kill himself the world would just see him as, “…some creepy old stalker dude who was in love with some young twat on a television show. Just a pervy old dude that killed that girl and then himself when he couldn’t have her.” Frank is taken aback by this as he hadn’t considered how it would look and that’s the last image he would want to be remembered for.
Roxy then convinces Frank that he’s done the right thing and that others need to pay as well and so the movie really starts to kick off with Roxy having convinced Frank to let her come with him as her parents where abusive drug addicts.
The movie then starts to explore areas that most people expect but in a unconventional way. Such as romance between the two of them. They are in a thrift shop buying clothes and such when the following conversation takes place:
Roxy: Are you attracted to me?
Frank: Don’t be weird.
Roxy: You don’t like me because you think I’m ugly?
Frank: I’m not attracted to you because you’re a child.
Roxy: And you think I’m ugly.
Frank: I’m not gonna answer that question.
Roxy: Well, what if we were the same age?
Frank: I’m not gonna answer that question, either.
Roxy: Oh, so you can kill a teenager, just not fuck one?
Roxy: But you do think I’m mature for my age.
Frank: Not particularly.
Roxy: You’re seriously not interested in me at all as a girlfriend?
Frank: What the hell are you talking about? I’m not a paedophile.
Roxy: What, so we’re platonic spree killers?
Frank: Yeah, and that’s all.
Roxy: Because you think I’m ugly.
Frank: It’s unethical for me to answer that question, because I refuse to objectify a child. I mean, that’s part of what’s wrong with everything. I’m not American Apparel. I’m not the creep that came up with those Bratz dolls. All men like young girls. Oh, that’s what society’s trying to sell ya, but, you know, maybe it’s time for adult males to aim a little bit higher than raping kids. I mean, fuck R. Kelly, fuck Vladimir Nabokov, and fuck Mary Kay Letourneau, while we’re at it. Fuck Woody Allen and his whole “the heart wants what it wants” bullshit. You know, apparently that erudite genius’s heart wants the same thing that every run-of-the-mill paedophile wants…a young, hairless Asian.
Frank: Nobody cares that they damage other people.
Roxy: I was just wondering if you thought I was pretty.
Frank: I won’t be responsible for the self-esteem of a teenager. If you don’t like it, you can cram it.
Roxy: Fuck you, Frank.
This leads the tone for the rest of the film. They go on what they refer to as a ‘spree killing’, taking out people that they feel are not in societies best interest.
There’s Chloe’s parents, the TV host that preaches nothing but hate. The movie goers that talk through out the movie and throw popcorn at Frank and Chloe and the guy videoing them on his phone in the theatre. Here they let a woman live as she was polite, has her phone off and didn’t talk during the movie. They then kill religious bigots and others as they want.
It’s around this point that Franks starts allowing Roxy to take some lead in their relationship when she shows him how she can help him deal with his migraines with acupressure technique. This could be a metaphor for allowing her to help him with some of his vulnerabilities but you can make of it what you will.
One of my personal favorite scenes, which i admit was earlier than the above scene, is when they are in another hotel room and she’s convinced him to share the bed for once as he would sleep in the chair otherwise and he agrees but in a foot to face position only with pillows between them. He then asks her after shes gone on giving a speech on Alice Cooper:
Frank: Are you A.D.D. ‘Juno’.
Roxy: Yes. I have A.D.D. And don’t you ever call me fucking ‘Juno’ again.
Roxy: That’s who we should kill next.
Frank: A fictitious character?
Roxy: No. Diablo Cody. Fuck her for writing that movie, she’s the only stripper who suffers from too much self esteem.
The movie travels on a bit from here with their ‘spree’ until Frank accidentally finds out that Roxy isn’t actually from a home of abusive drug addicted parents when he sees a TV spot of them calling for Roxy to come home.
This leads to them having a fight and breaking apart with her finally going back home and Frank on his own again against the world.
He decides to do one final act when….
You know what? Im going to just leave it there. I’ve already spoiled things more than i wanted to.
I give this, five guns!
Let me know what you think. Was this as great a movie as i think it is or do you disagree?