Sunday, November 13, 2011
A Blessing and a Curse
Unlike the rest of David Cronenberg's 80s movies, this one is his "Most Normal," so to speak. Adapted from a novel by Stephen King, the film is a strange and eerie tale, a warning about the power of destiny. It does lightly touch upon body horror, as Christopher Walkien's Johnny Smith is strangely evolving, a part of his brain long dormant, suddenly mutating and coming alive, giving him the bizarre power to predict the future.
Unsurprisingly at first this power is viewed as a curse rather than as a blessing. Regarded as a freak and feeling strong alienation only made even more worse by what he's lost, Johnny decides in the beginning to to hide away, going inward into himself. This of course changes, notably because of the invisible powers that start driving him to help others, which is the movie's main theme. If you could see something terrible that would occur in the future, would you do something to change it?
The answer to that question is not so simple, especially in the case of Martin Sheen's chillingly portrayed, psychotic and charismatic presidential candidate. He too believes not only in destiny, but also thinks that he has been chosen by God to become president of the United States. While the movie properly explores how and why Johnny decides to use his power, its problem is that the film is too short-there are not enough cases of him using his power to help the viewer determine if its really a good or bad thing. Sure this leads to him helping people, yet people also brush his assistance aside, which really renders him a bit useless. Yet those people do so at their own peril, for he's never wrong-after all, destiny has selected him to be its unwilling vessel.
There's something also rather creepy and really odd about this entire movie. Perhaps its due to Walkien, who's always had a weird quality about him, or maybe its due to the really bizarre subject matter. Some terrible things happen during the film's running time, and they too serve a purpose. What one takes away from this movie is that Johnny is both a creature of sorts and also a man, possessing a rare gift that he uses for good, not evil or to play God. Interesting that such a change from Cronenberg's norm results in one of his best movies, although it still fits into his usual style. 90