So I saw the science fiction movie Looper a couple of weeks ago. A lot of stuff is going on. Some of it is time travel stuff and it gets kind of complicated, but I want to focus a bit on the family dynamics. The two main male characters become mass murderers in response to losing their mothers. One goes back to mass murder after losing his wife. The socializing role of women is played on pretty strongly. The movie emphasizes the fragility of family ties in an atmosphere of economic decline. The movie is mostly set thirty years in the future and the most common jobs depicted are prostitute, hitman, and farmer. The chief off-camera economic activities that are alluded to are drug dealing and vagrancy. Mothers abandon their children out of drug abuse, personal irresponsibility, or else are killed. The damaged sons find themselves trapped in a cycle (loop!) of destructive and self-destructive decisions. One interesting element is the absence of fatherhood. I don’t mean that the fathers are absent (though they are.) It is that I can’t remember any mention of the absent fathers. I remember a reference to a husband, but that character doesn’t actually exist. No one seems to overtly miss a father. Characters find paternal figures or take on paternal roles. The emotional needs exist and are evident to an outside observer  (there is a quite poignant moment between two supporting characters who might be the same person), but the characters don’t seem to have a language for what is going on. Recovering the two parent family seems beyond hope and almost beyond imagination.  It heightens the sense of familial fragility.

Anyway, there is a lot more stuff (and good stuff too) going on in the movie. A question for anyone else who sees the movie. Would you say that it is more Buddhist or Christian in its orientation?

Articles by Pete Spiliakos

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