Everyman, First Impressions

9:56 PM Marcellino DAmbrosio 1 Comments


            For the last half a year, the boys at Reflection Films have put their time, money, passion, thought and life into their latest movie Everyman. I’m not going to give you a run down of the plot or the characters. Watch the movie. I will however cease to call it a movie, and from hensforth I shall refer to Everyman as a “film”—that is, until I remove the hat of film critic. In any case, these are my first impressions.
            Kevin McCaffrey’s impression of a Russian Mob boss totally made that film. From the close up of turtles swimming in a tank through his exit, every scene with him in it was film genius. Seriously. Who came up with the chicken monologue? Frikkin hilarious. I could watch him and Mark Wallace run their mob three hours and be totally psyched. Sadly, they were not on screen for three hours. I found its drama to be not altogether un-enjoyable, but I do have some issues with its conception and methodology.
            Here’s what I didn’t like about it: Everyman was obviously written by a philosophy major. As hard as I try, looking back over that film, the most unifying thesis I can come up with for the philosophical dialectic that is Everyman is drawn from the first and last scenes in the movie.
            Everyman opens with the sound of waves crashing in and out and then you see those waves lapping up against five bodies lying motionless on a beach. Fast forward three hours and a lot of dramatic dialogue later: “Steve,” the “ordinary” man who ends up being a serial killer, corrects his son for hitting his brother.
            The kid protests “but I want to!”
            Steve retorts: “But you can’t!”
            The kid again: “But why?”
            Steve then pauses, looks down with a horrifying look of realization, and then the credits roll. He frikkin killed his family! What the hell!??

This guy? A Serial Killer? NO!

            The point, it seems to me, is that every man who obeys his most base instincts and desires is no different than Steve, the family murdering bastard.
            Most of us, as well educated Catholic university students, know that the biggest problem in the world is, beyond a doubt, the absolute hedonism of modern culture; the massive orgies! Everyone is drugged up and having sex everywhere, and its all defended under the other greatest evil: relativism. The bumper sticker version of our Catholic fear is as follows: “Free sex, and its ok because freedom is doing what you want when you want!” Everyman attempted to tell the audience—and I say tell for a reason—that everyone who does what they want is no different than a psychopathic serial killer. And they are right, it really isn’t that different. The honest relativist cannot condemn Steve’s character in any way. What’s the problem then? The issue is, damnit, that no one is an honest relativist.
            Son of a Bitch! People! The issue with the world now is not the same issue that the world had in the “free sex” 60’s, nor the closely following “STD” 70’s. We’ve become disenchanted with our hippy idealism. At that time, we humans had some sort of an ideal left. We thought that “all you need is love” and we’ve since realized that leads to AIDS, unwanted pregnancies, and plush carpets covered in human feces and throwup. In this millennial century, we have woken up after the weekend’s drunken debauchery. Our heads are pounding and we still have our shoes on. We have what looks like a cigarette burn on our elbow, an empty “Magic Horse” condom packet stuck to our collective face, and we can’t remember anything about last night. And its time to go to work. That is the story of the millennial age. We just have one huge collective hangover.

The 21st Century

“Abstinence sows sand all over
The ruddy limbs and flaming hair,
But desire gratified
Plants fruits of life and beauty there.”[1]

And the Catechism:
“The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for”[2]

            We need to stop fighting the wrong battles, stop trying to kill the passions, and start trying to re-awaken them. Everyman focused on trying to restrain desire, and it didn’t even do it that well. Every character in that –I can’t take it anymore—MOVIE, is Socrates in disguise, and every word spoken is philosophical dialectic with a splash of emotion thrown in for good measure. Everyman was a Platonic Dialogue in disguise. For this reason, the audience couldn’t sympathize with any of the characters. To be honest, I couldn’t care less when Rebecca got shot. She didn’t mean anything to me because Marcus didn’t mean anything to me. As a matter of fact, the only real human moment between her and Marcus was the awkward one when they meet in the hallway. That was human. That was realistic. No one said: “This is awkward,” it just was supremely uncomfortable. If the task of the film maker is not to tell the story through dialogue, but to show it movingly, we have something less than perfect here.
            I’m not going to go through every character, but “Dorman” the detective is the best example of this. What was his motivation? It didn’t appear clear. We could tell that he had a bad relationship with his father. That probably played into it. And we know he was a cop. That was probably important too. But there wasn’t anything substantial that defined him other than “Zach Harned.” He was a mouth for the dialogue to be spoken through. It didn’t come from his character’s heart, but from the page entitled “script.” On the one hand we got the impression that he was supposed to be a “lawful good” cop who is hypnotically good at getting confessions from criminals. On the other hand, he doesn’t ever follow protocol, call for backup, or go through “the proper channels.” On the third hand, he isn’t really a man of action ether. He lets Marcus go twice, he lets Steve go, and even promises to be friends with him so that he could “understand” how to fix him. I’m sorry to tell you this Dorman, but you don’t need to understand a psychopathic killer to put a bullet in his head OR to arrest him. If you had done either, maybe Steve’s whole freaking family wouldn’t have had their brains leaking out of their sad skulls and mixing with the sea water.

Mmmm…. BRAINS!

Bottom line is that I don’t get Dorman because he’s inconsistent. I also don’t get him because he talks way too much, but all of the characters talked too much, so I can’t assign all of the blame to Dorman.
           However, the cinematography and acting was freakin’ amazing. Again, the turtles in the introducing scene of the Russian were fantastic. Marcus oozed intensity with every moment on scene. And Steve was very deeply unsettling, and very believable. The only criticism I have is that Mikey just wasn’t crazy enough, and I know that he has it in him to be a crazy SOB. I know. He is my brother. Lawless. Be jealous.
           With all this said, the quality of this work was Herculean task, especially all the professor’s cameos, made for a pleasant evening. As a confession, I think Zach probably payed Joe Donavan off (the cinematographer) to make him look as model like as possible, because I was attracted to him when he first walks into Philumina's office. It was the lighting! I swear!
Don't judge me.

[1] Poems from Blake’s Notebook 1791.
[2]  CCC Paragraph 27

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1 comment:

  1. Just a quick note on this one, the bodies on the beach at the beginning of "Everyman" are just random bodies. We don't know if Steve kills his family or not. I still think he would have, but his future is unclear.