Thursday, December 3, 2009

Truth in Marriage: A Killer?

Mr. and Mrs. Smith is oh-so-much more than the film that created Brangelina. Thought it was on this set that Brad and Angie met and started their takeover of the world, one underprivileged orphan at a time, the movie itself consists of more layers than are present at first glance. On it's finely gilded, shiny-smooth surface, it's just a film about a suburban husband and wife, on the downside of their marriage, who are each secret professional hit-people. They work for rival companies, so know nothing about each other's violent side. The conflict arises when they are contracted to kill each other, and the truth comes out.

The interesting wrinkle in this movie is the way in which it portrays marriage...or at least what marriage often turns into. Angelina says to a marriage counselor: "There's huge gulf between us. And we fill it with all the things we don't say to each other. What's that?" "Marriage," the counselor responds. The winking question that the movie asks is: "What would happen if you didn't repress all of your primal urges in a relationship?" When Brad sees the counselor with Angelina, he professes to be at an "8" on the happiness scale. When he goes back alone, he says that he wants the best for his wife, but sometimes, he just wants to strangle her!

Through the course of plot, Brad and Angelina (John and Jane Smith, of course) are put into a situation where they are asked each to kill the other, to save their own lives. Luckily, they both think, they don't love their spouse. The killing should be painless, at least for the killer. But, as you might imagine, a funny thing happens. Freed from the oppressive lie that has been their lives, they begin to tell each other how they really feel. Brad tells Angie that she's a terrible cook and that he hates the drapes she's chosen for the dining room. Angie tells Brad that he's distant and constantly underestimates her. Most of this while firing automatic weaponry at each other.

After tearing up their beautiful suburban home trying to kill each other, they come to the traditional Hollywood pose: guns at each other's heads. Then, they do the Hollywood thing: Drop the guns, tear off the clothes, and make passionate whoopee all over their ravaged home. They DO love each other! And all it took was a little honesty and a murder contract to bring it out.

The movie is fun, and slick, and made by Doug Liman coming off his triumphs with Swingers and The Bourne Identity and before he fell off the Jumper cliff. A good time will be had by all. But most importantly, for our purposes at least, it begs the question: Are we better off expressing the truth about us, even if that truth is dark? Is it healthier to be honest about our feelings, even if they contain incipient violence? Mr. and Mrs. Smith espouses Jesus' radical teaching about truth and honesty, that, dark as it might be, it will set you free.

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