spirits that speak


Learning about love in The Good Girl and Thirteen

Alright, so I just saw the movie Thirteen for the first time. It took me a while, but I finally saw it.

Now, this isn't a movie that a lot of people I know would enjoy. It's actually pretty provocative. But the movie said enough that it got me thinking. However, I didn't realize it was saying it until the end (which is when you should realize what a movie is saying, for the most part).

But this will not be so much a film review as a piecing together of my feelings after seeing it and taking 2 hours without thinking about it at all, just so I could come back and see things from a different angle, if necessary.

It's kind of a crazy movie, to tell you the truth. I'm not even sure I can summarize it. Um...you take a girl (Tracy) who is seemingly very untraumatized and living in a semi-happy family and then introduce into her life another girl (Evie) who is in the popular crowd at school and is living life on the edge and making it look very appealing. "What will Tracy do to get Evie's attention," I asked myself. Well, what I soon started asking is "What won't she do?" There's an almost immediate (emphasis on almost) transformation in Tracy's mind from revulsion at the way Evie shops for clothing to trying to outdo Evie so as to impress her.

Well, as you'll likely guess, things kind of spiral downward from there. Although one thing about Tracy is that she doesn't need much help in her downfall...she pretty much does most of it herself. And, as the film reveals, her life wasn't so untraumatized in the first place. It was more likely that her clean image was more of a mask than anything else.

What struck me most in the movie was Tracy's mother, played by Holly Hunter. The entire time that her daughter's personality is changing, the mom doesn't go the route that most parents would go. She kind of lets her daughter find her way and really doesn't do too much to step in until she realizes how bad things have gotten. Tracy does a lot of really awful, self-destructive things through out the movie (somewhat based on true events, by the way), but the scene that really hit home was at the end. Everything in Tracy's life has become revealed for what it is, but what her mother does is fight tooth and nail just to convey to her daughter the idea that she is behind her no matter what.

Spoiler alert: the next paragraph contains a really big spoiler about the movie. If you intend to see it, don't read this next paragraph!

The part that I'm talking about involves Tracy's mom finding out that, the entire time, her daughter has been cutting her arms in an attempt to vent the pain that she felt over a family situation. Her arm is cut up really bad and, by turn of events, her mom sees the arm. But instead of overreacting, or shutting down, her mom kneels next to her sobbing daughter and begins kissing the arm. It's one of the most moving scenes I've watched in a while.

Spoiler Paragraph Complete

The movie caused me to begin thinking about what a lot of people refer to as "dysfunctional relationships". Really, there are few of us that aren't, to some degree, dysfunctional in some part of our lives and our approach to relationships. But, dysfunctional or not, love is involved in many of those relationships.

Then I got thinking about The Good Girl. A lot of things happen in that movie, but the character that I could relate to the most was the husband to Jennifer Aniston's character (played by one of the best supporting actors in the world, John C. Reilly). He's what some would call a schmo and, at the beginning anyway, a really bad (read: inconsiderate, self-centered) husband. But then he realizes that the way he's acting is causing him to lose his wife. Then, just because he loves her, he gives up everything that drives her crazy and does his best just to be a better husband and show interest in his wife.

Love does not make relationships perfect. Just because a relationship has love invested into it, does not mean that it will shine as a glorious example. But what it does mean is that the relationship works. People support each other, they look out for each other, they try to bring the best out of each other. Investing earnest, selfless, love into all of our relationships is the only way to ensure that, no matter how many mistakes we make, it will always end up right.

It's not a revelation that I had, necessarily, given all that I've read about love in Scripture and elsewhere. It's just that it really reminded me that just because a relationship is dysfunctional, doesn't mean it's hopeless. With love in relationships, even though it may be broken it's still somehow part of one piece.


  • Hmmmm...quite a bit to chew on. Further response to come later.

    By Blogger Shiny Beamer, at 00:43  

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