This one was a bit weird. I can see why the two of you disagreed in your interpretation. Having watched it myself, I definitely agree with Anna on this one. This felt far more like a movie about someone who isn't quite sure of what to do being influenced by other people to a point where that person finally gets so sick of being led astray by other people that they choose to forge their own path instead. I don't think the main character ever felt in control and didn't want control as she didn't know what she wanted or how to get it, so she looked for other people who appeared to have it figured out, as in the "cool" people. What she found was that neither the popular girls nor the rebellious guy had things figured out either, at least their solutions didn't work for her. Those experiences gave her the confidence to figure out things for herself and not feel less than for doing things differently to the established patterns because she had seen for herself how flawed they are.

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May 7, 2023Liked by Casey Muratori

I loved this episode! I did not expect to see Molly Movie Club so close to self-annihilation!

This was the first time I saw this movie and immediately from the opening scene I could tell that this is gonna be a "weird" movie. All three characters have the same name and are addressing each other by it explicitly to emphasize that fact. They then try to hit a buried-in-the-ground-up-to-her-neck Veronica with a croquet ball. This is a clear signal to me that this movie's reality is nothing like our normal reality, so I should not take everything literally.

This is why I am more on Casey's side on this one. It's difficult for me to see these characters as people that would exist in the real world. Not only did J.D. show up whenever Veronica was angry, but also after her dream after which she feigned her own suicide. She managed to wake up at just the right time before J.D. would go in and kill her. It was also not very much his style to not make sure she was actually dead. Clearly he was meant to represent some part of her mind she was restling with and because the rest of the characters also behave in this "unconventional" way, I am inclined to extend that idea to basically all other characters.

However, I wouldn't say Veronica had complete control over her decisions. Yes, she wasn't explicitly forced to do anything, but that's like saying that blackmailing a person doesn't mean forcing them to do something, they can still choose to accept the consequences. While Veronica wasn't explicitly blackmailed, she was implicitly blackmailed because she knew that her inaction would not be without consequences. For example, she knew that she could refuse to go to the party, but by doing so she would endanger her status among the popular clique. It's a matter of semantics at this point what "control" even means. One could argue that we are always in control of what we do, just each of us has different consequences for the same kind of choice? Maybe technically true, but also not a practically useful definition of control.

So overall I agree with both of you on different points. I hope this restores some balance to the movie club!

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May 1, 2023·edited May 1, 2023Liked by Casey Muratori, Anna Rettberg

Dang! This was a spicy episode!

I never thought of watching the movie as if JD "doesn't exist". Such an interpretation reminds me of how a lot of medieval Biblical commentators would read descriptions of prophetic vision involving angels: they'll view the prophetic vision as real, and the angels real (which obviously JD is "real" b/c he literally assaults another student), but the whole circumstance surrounding the visitation as a sort of tenuous reality, or perhaps in the most extreme, as an outright dream, viz. JD's uncanny appearances and timing. The point of that mode of interpretation being very much to convey the otherworldly nature of the angel (i.e. JD), while simultaneously conveying that the event actually happened. Casey's description of "fable" I think is definitely apt for this movie.

On my most recent viewing of this film, it occurred to me that Veronica's actions and thoughts early in the film (e.g. the first Heather-murder) are eerily similar to the way my 3 yr old daughter sometimes acts; she'll steal a toy from preschool, and when I confront her about it, she'll be all like, "I didn't steal it, I picked it up and walked around with it for a while and then it went into my backpack and now it's here." It's a sort of willful rejection of personal agency (to use Anna's phrasing, it's a *willful* kind of out-of-control), and I think this movie does a really wonderful job of using high school teenagers to illustrate this dynamic.

I think a factor of many good films is that they offer these multi-layered ways of being viewed. You can be extremely literal about this film, and it's perhaps a bit strange, but still a solid, funny subversive twist on high-school drama, or you can get really metaphorical with it, and it becomes an abstract commentary about morality, personal agency, etc. Or, you can find an in-between, somewhere between either of those poles.

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