The Vicious Kind (2009)
Screenplay and Directed by Lee Toland Krieger
If anyone else remembers Boy Meets World, and I mean, remembers that show than Adam Scott should certainly ring some bells; he played Griff. But I didn’t see him again until Monster-in-law where he was just as funny as a gay guy. He honestly seems to fade in and out of roles that enable him to go through different emotions yet still be true to his obvious sarcastic and bleak approach through life. He stated that this was the first time in his career that if a movie came out bad it’d be due to his poor acting, which thankfully was not the case. Brittany Snow has maintained the image of otherwise being a “wholesome, good” girl which is certainly prevalent throughout most of her films. However, its her appearance in the Nip/Tuck series as well as this film that I prefer to know her for and hope that she will continue to venture out of what people may initially expect her to be in.
The beginning monologue was a fantastic intro and Scott’s entire performance was outstanding. There is no getting around that from the first moment we see him on-screen. He plays Caleb Sinclaire and while we don’t hear of this later, had recently split with someone who had cheated on him. While picking up his brother at college it seemed he also picked up rumors concerning Peter’s (Alex Frost) new girlfriend. Agreeing to pick her up as well but not bothering to put on a face of being happy about it. On top of everything else, he hadn’t slept in over a week. When they eventually pick up Emma (Brittany Snow) it seems his attitude only worsens, throwing out quips whenever able and causing Peter to lash out for the at times offensive antics. Dropping the two off at Donald’s (J.K. Simmons; their father) for Thanksgiving, Caleb opting out, having already not seen him in 8 years.
Scott’s character is unquestionably the favorite. There seems to be so many different layers to the actual story that are in direct correlation with the events that end up unfolding. The back story of their mother not discussed until Emma approaches their father, stating she needed to know more in order to better understand his son. It seemed she was having an affair and her boys refused to see her after hearing of the deceit brought upon their family. A year later she was diagnosed with Cancer and passed away 4 months after that; pretty depressing stuff right? The reason for Caleb choosing to stay out of his father’s life being the lie fed to Peter. It had actually been Donald who had been cheating on their mother for quite some time and she left after finally being tired of it all. “Sometimes people do things that they know are wrong, but they just do them anyway. Because to do the right thing would be too painful;” Donald later states to Caleb.
It’s everything they already know and unforeseen truths they refuse to accept that contribute to the way each interprets their hardships. Fate (dare I saw) keeps bringing Emma and Caleb together, running into one another consistently through the film. Each interaction bringing the two closer together in an almost agonizing betrayal of two people drawn to another for all the wrong reasons. It would appear that Emma resembles Caleb’s ex, who had been torturing him by calling randomly, to only breathe into the receiver. His response being to hire a prostitute and take pictures of the two, leaving them on her doorstep with his pain subsiding only momentarily. Despite his growing attraction for Emma, he feels a need to protect his brother from what he deems is inevitable; his speech at the beginning rather straightforward on how he felt about woman in relationships. The first sign being a simple white lie of not liking the smell of smoke. But rather, decided to agree of it as a disgusting habit after hearing of Peter feeling as such.
Understandably, seeing his brother with a woman so closely resembling his ex is difficult enough as Scott’s facial expressions were so passionately carried out. Going through his days with very little enthusiasm and running into Emma each time being all too coincidental. While at the grocery store, he claims to know of her kind and if she hurt his brother that he would ruin her. His transition into falling for her becoming more intriguing as it unfolds and him rationalizing things while immediately contradicting himself after. Insisting on their late night rendezvous, of which he was to blame, as some sort of sign of intervention. Emma initially coming off coy and a bit flirtatious though stern when Caleb’s approach crosses a line. However temptation proves too strong as she finally stops fighting her urges and gives in. The last 30 minutes of the film being an emotional roller coaster for the majority of characters with the exception of Peter. He stays forever in the dark and continues his relationship completely unaware of what lies ahead, should everything come undone. The timing between the events were so close, making them that much more intense to watch. Though the end leaves various ways to interpret what would happen after the credits were long gone, the one thing for certain was how bad you end up feeling for each character.
We as people, are the vicious kind and they all remain victims at the end. The story and psychology behind the script can be seen from a couple different perspectives, depending on who you choose to follow. Their father remains stuck within the lie he’s created and his relationship with both sons suffer, as a result. Peter had no inclination of what had happened and seemed too comfortable being inattentive. Emma is perceived as loose when we find out in the moments after being with Caleb that she in fact was a virgin. Caleb being so screwed from train wreck after another of relationships enduring and taking on yet another conflict of sleeping with his brothers girlfriend. The story is so enthralling that to be appreciated, certainly needs to be watched more than once. The shooting styles were intimate and in accordance with most other independent dramas. The Punch Drunk Love moment was a great shot of Adam; I also greatly enjoyed seeing him with the beard and looking more rugged than usual. When him and Emma go to one another was another nice movie moment with the last one sticking out being with the two on the train. In a close up of Emma’s eye/ear, Peter whispers he loves her as she begins to cry. Clearly from him unknowingly being the victim as she proved no different and was disappointed in where her choices lead her in the end. The story may seem a bit hard to keep up with if unable to fill in certain story plots for yourself but well worth the watch and hopefully able to see Adam Scott continuing to be distinctive with upcoming roles.