Conspiracy Theory (1997)
I’m sure my commentary gets long and old sometimes… uh, go watch the movie, it’s a classic in this style. And it’s sort of like if every Julia Roberts movie ever had a baby with MK Ultra. Sure, I may have gone into it a little elaborately down there but take a second to really watch Mel Gibson’s mannerisms and even for just a moment consider what the movie would mean if the premise was wrong and it was just a sick person’s daydream.
I really liked this movie (then). Now after some experience around folks who are bipolar-schizophrenic and recognizing the characteristics in some comments even on this obscure blog, I have a hard time enjoying it. This is basically a what-if movie. What if there was some crazy dude out there that was like all those conspiracy theory folks but, here’s the pitch, what if he got it right? Got what right? Doesn’t matter because then we find out he was all like Manchurian-candidate but escaped and doesn’t remember who he is. Great, how are you going to write it, what’s he going to be like?
He’s this crazy paranoid guy living on the fringe of society. He lives alone and locks his food away, his fridge, the food inside his fridge. He has locks on everything and devises elaborate counters to whatever They do. He obsessively reads newspapers and collects clippings. He basically relies on Baader-Meinhof phenomenons to piece together these outlandish conspiracies out of normal every day events. He claims to be peaceful but can be very aggressive verbally and physically at times. He claims to have secret knowledge that no one else seems to notice and if only someone would listen to him then he would blow the lid off. Of what? Everything! It changes all the time but he can be doggedly persistent in his illusions. Did I mention he was obsessed with this woman and stalked her relentlessly, even comes to her work all the time? Yeah, he totally built this shrine to her in his basement. He drives a cab all day and talks and talks to everyone about everything from the JFK assassinations to computer chips getting implanted into people. The fictional part is that a guy like this has freedom of movement and isn’t plugged into the system somewhere for government assistance, probation, government housing, something. He is a danger to himself and others and it’s very doubtful that for even 6 months he could wander the streets of New York without getting killed, hurting someone else or himself, or getting arrested.
So you take this person with a legitimate mental illness who needs both pharmaceutical intervention and psychiatric help and you say “what if?”. You’ll notice we begin in medias res of our normally mentally ill (and untreated) protagonists life where events are rapidly precipitated by a chance security camera facial recognition in a government building. Then all of the sudden government agents start swarming out of nowhere, Jerry is hustled off to “brain gravy” and torture only to heroically escape, he shows up at her work bleeding and combative saying he killed a guy and bit another guy’s nose, he’s taken to the hospital only to cunningly evade a murder in the night and then escape the next day, he outsmarts the government conspirators, she starts to believe him, he welcomes her into his world and she doesn’t immediately go running off, she was in his apartment!, then they get attacked and he has to save her (and all his awesome escape plans totally worked!) but then she finds some of his secrets and maybe she doesn’t like it at first but then wonder of wonders she starts to see things the way he does and they have to trick Them and sneak around and they’re like real life spies but together and he’s not alone anymore and he must not be crazy because she believes him and all of this stuff is really happening and there’s really a conspiracy and it turns out that he used to be normal but They made him this way and he’s actually a hero and was sent, that’s right he was sent to protect her! and then They catch him and she comes to his rescue and they defeat the bad guys, together! she’s amazing! and she loves him! and then the good government guys come and they want him to join them! and work together! and suddenly all of that stuff in his head matters and all of the things he did are justifiable and he was right, he was always right, he just needed someone to listen and believe and help him. He was always important and none of it was his fault and now he finds out he was normal the whole time, it was the world that was messed up. Not him. It was never him. It was all just a conspiracy. And as he’s whisked off to his new life, he sacrificially leaves her to her normal one without him because it’s just better that way, now she’s safe and he can go off and be quietly heroic. He’s even being chauffeured around by government agents now, not being chased anymore, no sir! He’s a very important person now! And he goes off to be consumed by his world and leaves her and ours to gently turn on in ignorance of the turmoiled chaotic things he does and thinks on a daily basis. How romantic.
You know how lonely people are always fantasizing about suddenly being desired by this amazingly attractive person and daydream about all the hot things they would do together? A paranoid schizophrenic or a bipolar schizophrenic would give anything for confirmation. You can give them all the evidence to the contrary and they either won’t believe it or will shift to a new delusion but they would love to have confirmation of one of their crazy fucking ideas and to be able to go to all their friends and family who treat them like they have an illness and put it in their faces and say, “You think I’m crazy but look at this! If you’d just believed me, if you just listened to me, if you’d just loved me enough, none of this would have had to happen.”
This movie is good and fun but I can’t get that kind of context out of my head and it’s ruined for me. Forever.