Vessels of wrath (cont)

by Andrea Elizabeth

Last night we saw Prisoners in which 2 young girls are kidnapped and one father, Hugh Jackman, and the heretofore undefeated detective, Jake Gyllenhaal, go after the perpetrator. The two messages are, if you are really trying to get the bad guys you’ll become a vigilante; and losing your child will turn you into a monster.

Why does it feel good when someone will break the law to stop a slippery criminal? Neglecting to get a search warrant because you’ll otherwise miss your chance is the most common example. Search warrants are to protect the innocent, but really it just says, we trust a judge to decide these things more than the cop on the street. There’s not really a perfect law to keep bad things from happening in such cases. Maybe that’s why it feels good. We trust good people more than good laws. And someone who takes the risk of getting in bad trouble sacrifices himself for the victims.

As for the monster part, even before that point was made clear, I thought that the horrible grief sort of gave the characters an excuse to either check out with drugs and alcohol or to become uninhibitedly angry, which is pretty scary coming from Jackman, not so much from Gyllenhaal, who generates more sympathy. I don’t think the worst tragedies inevitably and deterministically turn people for the worse, but they do make the slope pretty slippery, and it’s pretty hard to navigate your way up to higher than you were before. I hope it’s possible, however.