Saturday, June 10, 2006

Malice and the Appeal of Sociopaths

I just finished watching Malice half-heartedly. I remember seeing this movie at the theater when it came out and being heavily disappointed. After seeing it today I remember why.

This movie could've been great. As the film begins it seems like Alec Baldwin's character is some immensely egotistic, tragic character out of Marlowe's Dr. Faustus or Milton's Paradise Lost (Lucifer). And while watching the film I thought it was very appealing to see the development of a supremely arrogant character who sees himself as above everyone else. When he gives his speech proclaiming himself to be God, I secretly rooted for him. Just like Byron understood when creating his heroes, there are many of us who like attractive, charismatic, independent people with a supremely strong will.

But somewhere in the middle of the film, the story cheeses out and becomes a typical Hollywood thriller. It becomes a scheme for money with adultery and the usual backstabbing that has been going on in Hollywood thrillers since the days of film-noir. I lost all interest in the doctor's character and what I thought was the initial appeal completely vanished. I spent the rest of the film hoping Nicole Kidman would get naked.

Alec Baldwin's best talent is playing arrogant characters (and appearing on Saturday Night Live). The filmmakers chose a perfect actor for the doctor--then they wasted him. They give Alec Baldwin one very good speech but don't follow through. And even though this film is tolerable, I hate when I am given such high expectations and then completely disappointed.

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