Rated: 3 / 5
“Being alone in the world is the root of all suffering.”
Warning, this is one of those movies you should see before reading this spoiler-filled review. So if you haven’t seen it yet, I would strongly advise watching it before reading this review.
I watched this film 3 times. The first time I was a bit out of it due to being high, the second time I was still high but starting to come out of it. The third time I rewatched it was because I wanted to make sure I caught as much as I could. Because this is one of those films that is deceptive in what it shows. One of those films where the point of view is from the perspective of the protagonist, who is a bit crazy, and doesn’t always see things as they are in reality, thus what we see from his view isn’t necessarily how things actually are. Basically like David Cronenberg’s Spider, except, well, more deceptively cheerful and definitely more colorful. Plus this whole film has the dark humor thing going for it.
It becomes apparent early on, if you pay close attention, that what you see isn’t necessarily what is real. The film starts in a darkly lit and toxic-looking environment, with a manufacturing plant spewing out black smoke from its chimney (I guess you call it that). But then we see a truck in pink drive through the factory. Kinda seems out of place from everything else. Then when we’re in the factory, everything looks too clean, too pink, and too cheery.
And then our protagonist goes back to his hotel where he converses with his dog and cat, who talk back to him. It’s at this point where it becomes quite clear that something us up with this guy. But it doesn’t seem all that bad. After all, there’s nothing wrong with envisioning things as better than they are right? There’s nothing wrong with imagining your animals are talking back to you because you’re so lonely and socially awkward that you can’t really talk with anyone else right?
The thing is, as is pretty much stated later on in the film, the voices spoken by the cat and dog are just extensions of our protagonist Jerry’s psyche. Everything they are saying is basically just him talking to himself, debating with himself, struggling with choices and decisions to make. At the outset, it seems like the dog is a representation for good, and the cat a representation of evil, so they’re basically personifications of the good and bad angel trying to convince you to do good or evil deeds respectively.
But that would be simplifying things too much. The dog represents Jerry’s understanding of what good is, what the right thing is. Something he embraces, since he always tends to hug his dog and say, “Who’s my good boy!?” Although there is a brief moment in the movie where this is done in an awkward faction, where Jerry walks off-screen, and the shot lingers for a couple seconds. Makes me wonder if he’s fucking the dog or something. Probably nothing that insane, or I could be underestimating just how much insanity lies beneath the surface. Either way, I’m pretty sure it’s a moment to indicate that something is off with his “good” side, with his conscience, that there’s something awkward with his good side.
Anyway, I don’t believe the dog entirely represents good anymore than the cat entirely represents evil, at least not in an objective sense. They represent Jerry’s idea of good and evil. It would be easy to say that the cat represents Jerry’s idea of evil, but then there are moments where the cat talks realistically about situations. Stating that people at work laugh behind Jerry’s back (and thus Jerry himself believes this to some extent), that he’s never going to fuck this English chick he has the hots for, or that he’ll be butt-fucked into oblivion in prison if he tells the police about his little incident (more on that later). I should mention I myself found the cat to be the most enjoyable of all the “voices,” because his dialogue just gets downright hilarious at times. But in any case, I think the dog stated it best by saying something along the lines of, “The human mind is a complicated thing.”
With that said, Jerry’s world takes a new turn when he gains an attraction towards the English chick Fiona. As if his gazing wasn’t enough of a give-away, he also takes a hold of a pepperoni pizza where the pepperoni is heart-shaped, and eats it. A metaphor for “eating your heart out,” which is grim foreshadowing if you know what that expression actually means.
While he does have an affection for Fiona, he is so focused on her that he ignores the obvious flirtations and attractions that Fiona’s friend Lisa has for him. And this demonstrates one of the dangers of being absorbed in yourself and ignoring reality, you not only blot out the bad stuff, you also blot out the good things as well. But anyway, Lisa is into him, he doesn’t know this nor cares to know; Fiona isn’t into him, but he’s not taking the hint(s), even though this leads to some awkward interactions. Oh, right, and there’s a third friend among this trio of girl co-workers, her name is Alison.
Wait a minute.
Oh my God.
Well, ignoring that, and moving on from some obvious foreshadowing as to what will soon happen with the karaoke songs and whatnot, Jerry eventually gives Fiona a ride in his truck to this burger joint, and things actually start looking up for him. Granted, he is an awkward person, but he also has a sweetness and adorable naivety about him which Fiona can’t quite ignore. Pretty sure she only views him as a friend at best, and nothing more, but the potential for a good friendship is there. But then their car smashes into a deer. Stunned momentarily, then Jerry hears the deer talk to him, pleading for him to kill him and end his suffering, which Jerry does with a knife, much to the horror of Fiona, who freaks out and runs out of the truck. Jerry chases her, and accidentally kills her. But the way he handles the accident gives insight into just how fucked up he really is.
Later on in the film, an explanation is given as to why/how he turned out this way. Him and his mother heard the “voices,” so he inherited her madness. The father couldn’t handle this, so he left them. The mother tried to kill herself and failed, so she talked her son Jerry into killing her by stabbing her to death, putting her out of her suffering and misery. Ever since then Jerry has been trying to blot out all the bad stuff to keep what remains of his sanity (very little), and looked at it as a good thing to end one’s suffering, and to listen to the voices in order to ignore the hardships of the world, and not to tell anyone about the voices or else they (people running institutions) will attempt to take him away like they tried to do with his mother. All of this is revealed later on to give us an understanding and sympathy for Jerry, hoping that things turn out for the better for him, and that he succeeds in doing good.
The problem is that he lives in his bubble, with his voices, with his pets. And at one point he listens to his psychiatrist’s advice and takes these pills which blot out the voices and allow him to live in reality without any fantasy barriers blinding him to the real world around him. But it doesn’t take long for him to see just how terrible and horrifying his surroundings are before he throws away all the pills and pukes out what he did take. He’s been in the bubble too long to accept reality. It’s more easy-going to go on pretending that everything is fine, when it’s not.
Perhaps if he had taken the advice on the pills earlier, before he killed Fiona and chopped her up into little bits and stashed her parts in all these Tupperware bowls he may have been able to accept reality and start picking himself up, but it was too late. Because we see that it’s more than just the bloody mess he made, it’s also how he doesn’t clean up after himself or his pets, stores all his trash in his room, and is basically living in a dump-heap. Something that it doesn’t take long for others to notice and become horrified at.
But there is a message to be gained from this. Eventually Jerry does hook up with Fiona, and gets laid, and learns that actually having relationships/interactions with other people can be a good thing. A wonderful thing. Better than just remaining closed off from the world. But as good as that moment is, it comes too late for Jerry to redeem himself.
One thing to point out for a moment, there’s also a heavy indication that Jerry has pent up sexual frustration, as indicated when he’s watching animal porn with his pets (of animals fucking each other, not humans fucking animals, though again, I can’t swear that’s not the case between Jerry and the dog, which is probably why the dog attempts to run out every chance it gets). He switches from the animal porn to videos of animals killing other animals. And the cat mentions that killing makes one feel alive, that it’s better than sex. So his pent up sexual frustration makes him either want to fuck or kill.
He tries to blame his actions on the cat, but he comes to realize that this is all his doing, because the voices of the cat and dog are that of his own, his own thoughts, his own inner-conflicts. It eventually has to be pointed out by his psychiatrist as to what the obvious thing to do it.
“A lot of people hear voices. Or thoughts they can’t stop. […] Argue against them. Just because you have thoughts doesn’t mean you have to act on them.”
Good advice. It’s all about self-control. Too bad he listened to that cat for too long.
Bosco: What’s the matter, buddy?
Jerry: What am I supposed to do?
Bosco: I do not know.
Mr. Whiskers: The same as always, pretend everything’s fine.
Mr. Whiskers: Well, it got you this far, didn’t it?
Jerry: I guess so.
But again, the cat also says a line that is bluntly honest. That Jerry is neither good nor evil, he is just what he is.
The whole movie came off as a message, a warning, against safe-spaces. How they can be nice, that it is nice to live in your own private world, in your own little world, closed off from reality, free to believe what you want and live how you want. The main problem is that this has long-term consequences. And if you stay in the bubble for too long, reality will eventually seep in and destroy your sanctuary, and nowhere will be safe for you anymore, and you won’t be equipped to handle reality.