Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Peggy Unhinged

Blogging may be light today, I'm feeling out of sorts and have a dentist (eek!) appointment this afternoon, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to share what my pal Sean brought to my attention this morning - namely, this review of Mike White's Year of the Dog by Reihan Salam (who's temporarily taken up residence at Andrew Sullivan's blog whilst Sully gets gay-hitched - congrats Sully!).

Reihan zeroes in on something I only touched upon in my review, and I think he's right on; in contrast to what he sees as other reviewers thinking Molly Shannon's character Peggy has found her true self by movie's end, Reihan says:

"Peggy does indeed go bonkers, and this is a sad and poignant part of the story. And her animal-rights advocacy becomes a way of avoiding the incredibly hard choices she'd need to make to build a happy and fulfilling (not necessarily "normal") life. I've seen this happen to people I care about, and it's hard to watch. It's surprisingly hard to watch it happen on screen, particularly to characters who are so beautifully drawn.

Peggy is less ridiculously, beautifully human at the end of this movie than ridiculously, tragically alone and ridiculously, tragically crazy. The truly horrible thing is that there are plenty of people who will prey on her loneliness and use her as a pawn in their larger design. There's nothing cute about this movie. It might be the most important you'll see this year, and I can assure you that it will be one of the more difficult to watch. "

I couldn't agree more. Hers is most certainly not a spiritually uplifting journey; it's more like a car crash in slow-motion without us getting to actually see where everything falls in the end.

The boyfriend and I saw the film with a good friend of ours who happens to be a strict Vegan, and she seemed to see the film as having a happy ending as well, which... just no. Not a happy ending! Peggy has firmly lost her grip at the end. I think it may throw people off because we're hearing Peggy in voiceover saying she's finally found her role in life and she's smiling on a sunny bus going down the road and these are all normal filmic signifiers of a happy ending, but that's not White's intention at all - it's meant to be unsettling and sad.

ETA Actually, now that I'm thinking about this scene and I've been comparing and contrasting White with Todd Solondz in my mind as filmmakers since last week's Horror Roundtable, I think the this final scene of YotD has a lot in common with the final scene in Solondz's Welcome to the Dollhouse, where we have Dawn Weiner riding the bus on a sunny day singing a happy song with her classmates on their way to Disney World, all when we know she doesn't want to go, she's probably going to have a horrible time, and she's only going to have years more of abuse heaped on her once the film ends. Peggy's future, at the end of the film, seems just as bleak, all while set in basically the exact same location and situation. Hmm.


Anonymous said...

The woman who played her work friend was on a local morning show today and the host kept trying to call it a "relationship movie".
This is a tragic movie and one of the best portraits of grief ever made.

Unknown said...

I have to force myself from reading anything more about this film. I'm going to rush to it the moment it gets to my little Oregon. If you can draw any similarites to it's ending and that of Dollhouse I'm sure eager to see it. And to think comic Molly Shannon is doing this role. I'm so happy for her. I wonder if Kate Winslet would have been good too, but think I should mentally play around with casting. Sounds like all the right elements are in place.

Jason Adams said...

As much as I think Kate Winslet can do NO wrong, I'm glad Molly got this wonderful part, and rocked it so hard. Don't read anymore Christopher, go into it blind.