Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Psychopath's Advocate?

Guilt is a bag of fucking bricks, all you gotta do is set it down!

The topic and plot of the movie 'The Devil's Advocate' has many layers, the main one of which is to present the analogy between the role played Christian Devil before before the spiritual aspect of reality was abandoned and replaced with the psychopath. Psychopaths are our contemporary equivalent to the Christian Demon, or even - as in this movie - The Devil Himself. and that of the about a brilliant young lawyer - played by Keanu Reeves, who performs vigorously and absolutely believable as always - Kevin, who gets hired by one of the largest firms in New York, where he gets sucked deeper and deeper into, amoral and decadent ways. The movie 'discusses' good and evil based on the Christian religious theology and bible scriptures are frequently cited by all the main characters.

The setting is modern day corporations on high level and some court room settings. Kevin, the young lawyer, moves to New York with his beautiful and lovely, enthusiastic wife, they see their dreams coming true. But of course that is not what is going to happen. It turns out that his new boss is no one else than the Devil Himself... or a Psychopath!

I only set the Stage, you pull your own strings!

John Milton - played by Al Pacino with that ever present raw, aggressive quality of his - is portraying the epitome of everything we (think we) know about a so called 'high functioning' psychopath. I personally never liked Pacino much, but I have to say he delivers this one well. It's right on the spot in mannerisms and expressions, and the way he plays on almost every emotional trigger you can think of, all rolled up in one presentation, and therefore always getting under the skin of whomever he's talking to. It's all their own doing, but it's his, the devils, the psychopath's, orchestration.

The whole thing is like one, big test!

Kevin's wife - played by the unusually talented and beautiful Charlize Theron - is the only true empath, or innocent, person in this movie. And since it's a story about decadence and evil within a normal, wealthy, modern day high profile office setting, every new step the characters take to make their own lives better are steps through more depravity - something which is mostly hinted at, especially by Pacino (the psychopath, of course) - towards their own downfall.

I don't want to look at myself in the mirror, I'm afraid I'll see a monster!

I think the portrayal of Kevin's wife as she falls victim to Milton's play and becomes schizophrenic, or haunted by supernatural entities - depending on how you want to see it - is right on the spot as well and a good portrayal of how psychopaths can affect empathic people. It's nothing personal, but she's in the way, Milton wants to get her husband for his own purposes and can't allow anyone else to have any claim on his emotions. So he plays her, turns her upside down and inside out (envisioned by her change from a curly long hair blond to a short straight hair brunette)

In many ways this is a brilliant movie, and even though I generally are very am very ambivalent towards it when movies play heavily on the knowledge about typical psychopathic character, behavior and manipulative styles (which are comfortably vaguely laid out, but nevertheless quite clear), and in this case even on mannerisms, facial expressions and body language, I have to say I love it.

Milton has no home, except for his no apartment, he lives nowhere, no one has ever seen anything but his office, and he calls it his home. When Kevin asks "But then where do you...?" Milton answers: "fuck? Everywhere!!". Another analogy to how it is said that psychopaths always are secretive about their background and past.

Who can rightfully deny the twentieth century was rightfully mine?

A lot of people would agree that the psychopaths have been 'playing' the world for perhaps several decades, perhaps 500 years, and everything in between according to who you're talking to.
The final scene takes place in Milton's penthouse office where Kevin confronts Milton, whom he has found out is (of course) really his father, and a discussion about (the Christian) God and The Devil takes place. Pacino does it well, perhaps emphasizing a tad too much on aggressive aspects of his performance - but he always does that - but most of the time he does t exactly how his character would do it. And after all, The Devil is not one specific ever persistent personality.

God is a sadist! He's an absentee landlord! Worship that? NEVER!!

Kevin typically asks several times: "What are you?!". How often do we not hear questions like that about 'ourselves', the Psychopaths and Sociopaths?

When Kevin asks: "What do you want from me?", Milton's answer is a line I have said often myself: "I want you to be yourself! I tell you boy, guilt is a bag of fucking bricks, all you gotta do is set it down!".

"Are we negotiating?" ... "Always!"

Milton's monologue has multiple perfect points that I just could not disagree with. Yet I know he's representing the Devil, and more so: The Psychopath as modern research finds us. And that tells me I must have a lot of opposition, and if this is what neurological and genetic science is looking to eradicate I'm not sure I'd even want to be around to see the result. Then again, I probably would stick around if I had the chance.

"Better reign in hell than serve in heaven, is that it?"
"Why not? I've been here with my nose on the ground from the beginning. I've inspired every sensation Man has ever had! I cared about what he wanted and I NEVER judged him! Why? Because I never rejected him, in spite of all his imperfections I'm a FAN of Man!! ... I'm a Humanist, maybe the last humanist!"

I will not go into detail, it would be such a shame for those who haven't seen this movie.

Who in their right mind can rightfully deny that the twentieth century was entirely mine?

Is this our time, the psychopaths' time? Many seem to think it is, and I would agree, especially with that in mind we are concretely subject for special scrutiny in a way we've never seen it before. But to be just, I think all Times will always be Our Times. We are one of the main driving forces of nature, and that is the way it will always be.

I'm peaking, Kevin! It's my time now! It's OUR time!

But we better reap what we sow, do it well and do it now, because there may not be a whole lot of time left to do it since the herd is using the fire - the fire we stole and generously gave it - to scheme and invent means to our destruction. It'll be their destruction too, of course, I guess there's a comfort in that. Either way, if they do not, pollution or the rapidly growing global population will see to it that times are going to change, and it will not be that long before they do.
I'm aware that most of those who carry my label do not carry a whole lot of concern about the future. But I also know there's an elite amongst us - as there are elites in every group and subgroup; every majority and minority in existence, they all have elites - and they DO care. They will want to see to it their genes get passed on and their knowledge too.

This is my prerogative, this is my ambition!



Anonymous said...

A world full of psychopaths would never work, The world is fine he way it is. With psychopaths in charge it would be a dictatorship and a hostile place, look what's happening in Libya, psychopaths are mad men who will always come out on the bottom.

Anonymous said...

Everyone hits the bottom, sooner or later, psychopath or not. We all have expiration dates, whether it is an assassin's bullet, or organ failure from old age. What matters is what you do when you're still alive!

I don't consider myself some elite in this group... but I do care about our future. Without us, this world would be a very different place. A very scary place, horrifying in fact. Without the cold and heartless to be the world's enemy, which dastardly cretin would take up the mantle?

I can guarantee you this at least. It would be worse.

ResCogitans said...

all variation of human makes the world a richer, more interesting, place.

i did like pacino's character - achieving what he wanted by mind-fuck rather than ever resorting to violence, such as when the guy in the train carriage tried to start on him.

...Keanu Reeves, who performs vigorously and absolutely believable as always...
lol. he's pretty much always the same character - like someone stoned.

Zhawq said...


"all variation of human makes the world a richer, more interesting, place."

So true, so true. The key word is 'variation'. It is also the 'dirty' word in the common citizen's brain. They want us all to be same, law abiding, hard working, football watching, in a never ending cycle through week after week towards the ultimate 'good', harmonic society where nothing stirs the piece and quiet.


"Without us, this world would be a very different place. A very scary place, horrifying in fact."

You mean it would be horrifying to them, the empathic normals, too?
Personally I think they would love it ... for a while. Then they'd go extinct, for they wouldn't be able to take the actions necessary when wildlife starts challenging our borders, which is already happening in some parts of the world. Even in ours, take Florida, fx., with their fire ants. It would not be an easy task for an individual who has no "psychopathic" aggression and lust for murder and violence to think up, experiment and create ever more harsh measure to keep this menace at bay.


"all variation of human makes the world a richer, more interesting, place."

You said it!
Yeah, It was hard to find something to say about Reeves. But I do think he always gives his best, and I wouldn't say 'like stoned'. Actually I think of him as someone who never really does drugs at all, except maybe a little sniff now and then, if even that.

That scene in the train, it reminds me of some that way we can sometimes turn things simply by make it seem as if we know more than we do. It can be so easy to give the other that impression, I've done it many, many times (been living a good part of my life in criminal 'tough' areas).

That's what I meant with the supernatural layer here, Milton actually DO say thing that shows he know what the dude's wife is doing, but in reality this does happen but because one throw a guess and keeps it within the limits of what could very likely be the truth. If it isn't, you add a little more according top how the guy reacts. Every reaction gives you new information.

It's a beautiful little thing in my eyes. :)

Anonymous said...

I was hinting and radical idealism, where common greed cannot buy away problems (ie America buying off North Korea)

And no, I don't know if Kim il Jong is really nuts or not, but he is at least a clever greedy bastard.

MrBlake said...

Not easy to know if Kim Il Jong is nuts. He's too closely guarded for anyone to really get an idea of what the little shit is really like.

"all variation of human makes the world a richer, more interesting, place."

Man, am I totally with you there. But they keep working at getting more uniformity, more and more uniformity. If I'll ever understand it.

What's a bit of killin' here and there if it gets everybody at their toes and all the happier for it?! Cause that's what it does!! And you can scream bloody murder till it kills you, but I'm right, we're right, and we'll always be right about that.

"A world full of psychopaths would never work"

Nah, guess you're right about that. Don't think it's every gonna happen either. If it was, things would soon even themselves out again.

Nico said...

What do you think of the movie "House at the end of the street"? ->
Or what do you think of the "A" in the Tv-series "Pretty Little Liars" ->
Just interested :)

Anonymous said...

"But I also know there's an elite amongst us - as there are elites in every group and subgroup; every majority and minority in existence, they all have elites - and they DO care. They will want to see to it their genes get passed on and their knowledge too."


If you haven't seen wolf creek 2 yet, please do. I can't remember ever smiling for so long and having such a decadent experience from watching a film.