xlivvielockex: (Review Time)
[personal profile] xlivvielockex
After talking to Roz about Looper, I think I need to put my thoughts down in a way that allows me more room than Twitter.

Here is the official synopsis of the movie: “In 2074, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent 30 years into the past, where a hired gun awaits. Someone like Joe, who one day learns the mob wants to ‘close the loop’ by transporting back Joe’s future self.”

But that is just the tip of the iceberg. At its heart, Looper is a movie about mothers, though the trailer would lead you to believe otherwise.

SPOILERS!



Through the course of the movie, we find out that Joe’s (JGL) mother was a member of the vagrant class, a group that has been left to fend for themselves in the world. Addicted and desperate for escape, she sold her son. With little options or choices (and choices are important in this movie), Joe finds himself with a purpose when the mob puts a gun in his hand to make him a Looper. At one point early in the movie, he almost hits a young vagrant boy who, we find out later, is about the same age as Joe when something radically changes in his life. (It’s not something you even realize until you are leaving the movie!)

Joe, without his mother, has never made the right choice in his whole life. Even as we see his life in the future after closing his loop (killing his future self when he is sent to the present), he makes the wrong choices. He is a thug, a gun for hire, and a junkie. It isn’t until he meets his future wife (Qing Xu) that she saves his life. Old Joe (Bruce Willis) has a moment of reflection when he says “she always wanted a baby. She would have made a great mother” (paraphrasing). It is even more horrific that because of Joe’s bad choices, she is shot in her lower abdomen. (SYMBOLISM!)

The only way for Old Joe to save his wife is to travel back to the past and make the choice to kill the man he holds responsible, The Rainmaker, as a child. The Rainmaker is the one who is closing all the loops. Time travel is so illegal that there cannot be any witnesses. The Loopers get 30 years before they have to close their own loops. Old Joe isn’t after The Rainmaker for himself, it is to give his wife the chance to be a mother, what she always wanted.

Old Joe murders a child. He does it in cold blood. A latchkey kid with no sign of his parents, especially not his mother. Sure, Old Joe seems to feel bad about it because he is crying when the deed is done but it doesn’t stop him from seeking out a second child to kill. What is interesting about this, is that the child has a single mother. A single mother that Old Joe knows and it does make him hesitate.

This doesn’t seem to come out of left field. The audience only finds out about Joe’s mother in the last third of the movie. However, in his interactions with the prostitute Suzie (Piper Perabo), he tells her to take his money, to give a better life to her daughter (who is the second Rainmaker candidate). It’s unclear at the time why Joe wants her to do this (perhaps the prostitution but it might be because she works in a mob controlled joint). When he speaks of the way his mother used to stroke his hair, it is a rare moment for Joe to open up, to allow a hint of vulnerability. He makes the choice to confide in this single mother, who in some ways is similar to his own mother (and the fact he has sex with her probably needs to be discussed at more length than here).

Then we get to the real good stuff of the movie (imho), Sara (Emily Blunt) and Cid (Pierce Gagnon). Cid is the third Rainmaker candidate and young Joe goes to the farm in an attempt to intercept Old Joe, kill him, and be allowed back into the mob. Naturally you can see where this is going. Young Joe is going to bond with both mother and child. After sleeping with young Joe (he has slept with the woman his mother was in some ways and one who is how he wanted her to be), Sara tells him that she was a party girl in the city, that she gave Cid to her sister to raise. But after her sister’s death, she had to make a choice, to return to the family farm to raise her son right. The only thing that Sara wants to do is to teach her son the right choices, to protect him from the evils of the world. She wants the best for Cid.

It is this, Sara’s choice, that prompts Joe to make the choice that changes the course of everything. It is almost like Sara is serving as his mother as much as Cid’s. He can see what the choice Old Joe is going to do, Old Joe who’s vengeance is also fueled by motherhood. Young Joe has lived his life without a mother and that is a path he has walked. He can see Cid becoming the Rainmaker, he can see him slaughtering thousands, and making all the bad decisions Joe has but on a much larger scale.

So this movie, which was marketed as just another time travel flick, changes the script. Seeing the trailer, you would never suspect that at the heart of this movie, it was not about the mob or crime. It’s about mothers and paths, choices and consequences. Are there problems? Of course. But at the end of the day, don’t pass it up just because you think it’s another time travel movie. It is so much more.
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