Sunday, November 4, 2007
Recently released on DVD, I've come to like Mr. Brooks quite a lot.
The rotten tomatoes review doesn't really do this film justice. I suspect that's because the plot doesn't fit on the back of a cocktail napkin.
The main characters are the title character, Mr. Brooks (Kevin Costner), his murderous alter ego Marshal (William Hurt), the police woman who's trying to solve a series of murders (Demi Moore) and the slacktastic Mr. Smith (Dane Cook) who witnesses Mr. Smith's handiwork and becomes a sort of avid fan.
The story centers in large part on Mr. Brooks. In almost a character study, we're shown him interacting with Marshall, attending AA meetings to stop himself from killing, dealing with a daughter ( with her own secrets ), and taking Mr. Smith out on hunting trips ( as Mr. Smith has photos from the last time Mr. Brooks "slipped" ).
What really attracts me to this movie is the interplay between Costner and Hurt. As Marshall, he's the inner voice urging Mr. Brooks on to mayhem, but also a consoling force and even at times a moral conscience.
Some have likened Marshall to the parts of ourselves we don't much care for; those things we're ashamed of about ourselves. That's a shallow view, and misses something perhaps unique to those of us who deal with addictive natures.
Marshall, as the embodiment of a darker nature, isn't completely destructive. Yes, he does drive Brooks to commit heinous crimes, but he also assists Brooks in getting away with those crimes. He serves in scenes as Brooks's memory, providing details which escape him. When things go very wrong with Brooks's daughter Marshall is there both to console and caution him.
Not entirely altruistic, of course. The most persistent virus does not kill it's host, so keeping Mr. Brooks out of trouble serves Marshall's purposes. He does enjoy life, if he does say so himself. Helping Mr. Brooks serves that end.
That duality; that darker aspect of one's inner nature which is both destructive and helpful rings true.
An obsessive compulsive type is very annoying... unless he's the one spending nights and weekends pouring through the tax codes trying to find more deductions for your income tax return.
The glib social peacock, who can change her interests and personality to match her audience is at least shallow, if not an outright lier lacking in substance, but I'll bet she's great at marketing and/or sales.
We deny our inner nature, both the good parts and the bad, at our own peril.
For most, if not all of us our Marshall isn't going away. To pretend otherwise is to forget our Marshall is there, and then when Marshall whispers an idea in our ear we can forget where that thought comes from. Might even seem like a really good idea, if we're not careful.
That said, our Marshall isn't entirely harmful. Kept in check, it can be a source of strength. If only to help people with their own Marshall.
Might as well make some sort of peace with him. He isn't going anywhere.
PS: For those of a firearms enthusiast bent, watch the gunfight between the police woman (Demi Moore) and the serial killer Meeks (Matt Schulze). Whomever did the fight choreography threw in some nice details. Note how Moore uses a proper shooting stance, cover, and some tactical consideration in taking out the overhead lights. Meeks and his silent girlfriend blaze away one handed, illustrating perfectly the adage that there's always more air than meat to hit. Nicely done.