Frailty the movie
January 1, 2009 10:44 PM   Subscribe

Frailty the movie: did I get all of that right? (Needless to say, major spoilers inside!)

This is about the movie, Frailty, which I had the recent chance to see in a badly transfered, and scratch-skippy to boot, DVD. The ending in particular was pretty mangled on this copy.

1. Should we understand that McConaughey can really see the unredeemable evil people have done?
2. Did him touching a sinner cause said sinner to go wobbly, as seemed the case with Boothe, who stopped fighting in spite of being physically unharmed otherwise?
3. Was his blonde pregnant wife fully knowing of McConaughey's "mission" and abilities? She seemed to be covering for him and lied to Boothe when he called the small town's sheriff office to ask about "Fenton" (if I didn't misheard the crappy audio?).
4. Why does the angel appearing to his father look like an adult Adam (that is, McC.)?
5. Should we understand that young Fenton truly had a vision in the cellar, and that this vision was the need to kill his father? (If so, a neat interpretation I like is that this was due to the father killing the innocent sheriff, a thing that was definitely outside his "divine call".)
posted by Iosephus to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: 1. Yes, although he would say they are not evil people but demons.

2. Yes, as with his father the demons seemed to be put off by being touched by the hands of God (although earlier on it wasn't clear that that wasn't just them being weirded out by Papa Meeks' own stiffening up and seeing the vision).

3. Yes, I think they made it clear that Adam's wife was in the know, either fully believing in Adam's mission or even being a hand of God herself.

4. I didn't notice the angel's resemblance to grownup Adam.

5. It's hard to say if Fenton really had a vision in the root cellar because as we find out it's not actually Fenton who is telling the story. What I figured is that Fenton just faked the vision so he could get out and killed his dad because from his perspective his dad was doing very bad things. Then, understandably Fenton went crazy and maybe started believing that his dad was right, and started killing other people (but not demons like dad and Adam killed, because if he had been killing demons he and Adam probably would have gotten along a lot better).
posted by samph at 12:26 AM on January 2, 2009

Best answer: It's been a while since I saw this, but as I remember:

1. Yes, we are shown the "demons" committing their sins; and the FBI agent he touches and accuses says something like "How did you know?" before getting the axe.

2. I don't recall that but it seems reasonable, since we're supposed to believe that some kind of spiritual event is happening.

3. Yes, she's his disciple or assistant in his inherited "mission".

4. Huh, I don't remember actually seeing the angel.

5. Hard to tell - he may have hallucinated, or he may have had a vision - either from God or someone else, seeing as he then kills Dad and goes on to become the God's Hand Killer before being "destroyed" by Adam.
posted by nicwolff at 12:30 AM on January 2, 2009

Response by poster: Great, thanks! And I just saw on IMDB that the angel is credited to someone other than McConaughey, so I was wrong. Funny trivia: the angel was one of the prop people for the movie, not a regular actor.
posted by Iosephus at 12:59 AM on January 2, 2009

5. Nope; Fenton was a demon. One thing his dad says during the film is, "Only demons should fear me... and you're not a demon are you? The angel said you were. But I can't believe that. I won't. You're my son. And I love you more than my own life. You know what's funny about all this, Fenton? I'm afraid of you."
posted by TheManChild2000 at 5:47 AM on January 2, 2009

There's an awful lot of unreliable narration going on in FRAILTY and I'm not sure we should take any of t as, er, gospel. Including the idea that Powers Boothe's character quasi-admits to having killed his mother. It could all be part of Adam's delusion.

I thought it was quite a good movie.
posted by Justinian at 10:39 AM on January 2, 2009

Response by poster: TMC2000, good point there. I have to agree now that he just lied to get it over with and his parricide turned him into a "demon".

Justinian, yes, there's a lot of mindfuck going on in the plot, and I liked the lack of definite answers. But I think he wasn't (just?) delusional, as the security cam "noise" and the vanished face-memory of the junior FBI agent point out at the end. Quite a good movie, agreed.
posted by Iosephus at 1:48 PM on January 2, 2009

But that's just the thing... based on the world presented in the film, Adam is not delusional. God is real, the angel was real, demons are real, and Dad was totally right: a magic axe named Otis is actually needed to lop off the heads of wrongdoers. Adam has magic power and can erase himself from people's memories, have visions that show him the truth, and edit himself out of video surveillance recordings. Boothe's character did kill his mother; Adam's vision showed this.

That's one of the many clever things about FRAILTY... the fact that when you start watching the movie, you're sitting there thinking the dad is insane and just making up a bunch of rules, then eventually you realize that the story is presenting the exact opposite. I've seen this movie described as a psychological thriller but it is clearly a supernatural thriller... unless, of course, you are someone who believes in the whole Otis thing as I'm sure some do, heh.

Also, I don't think Fenton was a demon because of the parricide, but because he was going to become a serial killer. The parricide was just the first of his many "demonic" acts. The idea that maybe he became a serial killer because of his "loony, abusive" father (in quotes because in the movie he wasn't loony, and the abuse could be argued as his attempt to purify his son who he could tell had the mark of evil or whatever) is one of the better circular mindfuck elements.

It always bugged me that Paxton made such a fantastic movie as his first effort and didn't see the huge acclaim he deserved. Although I guess the guy probably had acclaim already coming out his ears by the time he did Frailty.
posted by TheManChild2000 at 4:53 PM on January 2, 2009

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