Saturday, January 30, 2010

Zooey & Adam (Spoilers)

I just got home from the Cinematheque, where I went to see Zooey & Adam.

I enjoyed it. A lot. One of the first things I noticed while watching the film, was the lack of a score. I can't recall if I have ever seen a film that did not use a score. I am sure I have, but none come to mind right now. But it didn't need it to create emotion. The main actors (Tom Keenan and Daria Puttaert) do a fantastic job themselves. They had great chemistry, and played every scene with a fantastic realness. One scene that really stood out for me was the scene where Zooey told the police officers that she had been raped. She said it very offhandedly, and even laughed a little bit. People might be shocked that she gave her line in that way, but I wasn't. I find that when people talk about traumatic or painful experiences, they often try to sound casual, and even laugh about it. You know, cracking a joke so you don't burst into tears?

Another scene that felt really human to me was when Zooey did burst into tears in the supermarket. I am sure most of us have either had or witnessed moments like that in their lives. When the emotional burden is so heavy that you just have to let it out, even if you're in public. I had a moment like that last spring, so that scene resonated heavily with me.

The way the film progressed actually really surprised me. I had assumed that the film would end with the birth of Carl, and that it would be about her pregnancy. Therefore, I was very surprised when Zooey went into labour so early in the film...for the first few minutes after that scene, I found myself wondering if this was Adam's fantasy of what the future would bring.

I've heard people talk about the movie as if it were just about the rape that occurs at the beginning. It isn't about that. To me, it's about trauma, and about relationships. Zooey and Adam deal with the traumatic event very differently, and serve to contrast each other. These two characters, who love each other very deeply, end up feeling very differently about the event, and the after effects of it. One character refuses to allow themselves to be defined by the trauma, but for the other, it does become the big defining moment of their life. It made me understand just how easy it is for a relationship to be ruined by a trauma. Human beings react differently to bad situations and if you're spouse or loved one has a different way of coping that you do not like, it really can cause damage to a relationship.

I found myself thinking about how one would react when placed in the situation these two characters were placed in. But how can you know how you would react until you're in it? The position they were placed in is not one I'd wish on anyone, but one obviously makes the best of it, and the other tries, but ultimately, fails, to move on from it. Everyone has events that are traumatic to them and that help define them as a person. But I think there are healthy and unhealthy ways of dealing with trauma, and in this film, we saw an extreme example of a very bad way of coping with a traumatic event. I'm curious about how common such an extreme reaction is. There must be fathers out there raising children that may be the product of a sexual assault, and I wonder what that must be like.

I stayed behind after and listened to Sean Garrity and Arthur Schafer, an expert on ethics, speak about the film. I found it fascinating, though it did focus a bit much on abortion which, to me, was such a small part of the film. A member of the audience asked an interesting question, "what if the roles were reversed?" As in, what if Adam had wanted to keep the child, and Zooey had wanted to abort. Schafer did mention a court case where the woman involved wanted an abortion, and the man didn't want her to have one...and the man lost. It's an interesting thing to think about, but I believe that a woman should have the right to choose whether she wants to carry a child to term, regardless of what the contributing party believes. Certainly the father has a right to voice his opinion, but in the end, it is the woman's decision--as it should be.

Am I glad I saw it? Very. It is not an easy film to watch by any measure; and it made me very emotional, but I like movies that are hard to watch. I was in the car with my Mom afterwards and she brought up the fact that film festivals have refused to screen it. I told her that it did have some controversial subject matter, but it generates discussion and it wasn't explicit in anyway. I recognize that I am a fairly open minded person, but I did say that the people who "banned" it had to be a little closed-minded. Garrity explained that they thought the decision Zooey made was not one any woman would make, but he also quoted a statistic that said that 36,000 women in the States get pregnant from a rape, and from those, half carry to term, and most of those women do keep and raise their babies. So perhaps there was a little bit of misunderstanding on the parts of the festival organizers, but I wish they would reconsider the film. It's fantastic and well worth a viewing.


  1. Sweet! Im pretty excited to see it this week.

  2. Love the review! Lots of great insights here. And I can't believe how quickly you put this together after seeing the movie. Bravo!

    As our resident score expert, do you think that you'd like the film more with a score? And, if so, by which composer?

  3. Thank you! I would hardly call myself an expert on scores though. I honestly think it works perfectly without one. It almost adds to the intimacy of the interactions between the characters.