This film is very touching and heart warming. It tackled many issues about family. The main plot of the story was about an unhappy separated man, George, and his relationship with the people around him. When he learned that he had cancer, he finally took up the courage to do something with his life that could actually make him happy. At first, I thought it only tackled the issue of separation between husband and wife and its effect on the children but as I got deeper into the movie, it became apparent that there were numerous issues imbedded in each situation.
I believe that the first few scenes of the movie is very essential in tackling the issues presented in the film and to get a better picture of how the characters in the film behave prior to the resolution of the issue/problem. Depicted in the first few scenes in the movie was Sam, George and Robin’s son, trying to commit suicide by inhaling weed (I think) and hanging himself in his closet; George, living alone in his “shack”, walks outside with only a brief taking a leak and some neighbors saw his little “show”; and lastly, Robin (George’s ex-wife) with her new husband and children eating breakfast.
At certain points and in certain scenarios in the movie, different people became the one in control or the one who influenced the family at some point, depending on the relationship of that person to others. At first, I believe that Sam was the one who had the most influence/control when it comes to his mother. It seemed that whatever he wanted to do, his mother just comply and give in to him because she cannot handle his behavior. There was a particular scene wherein Sam was sleeping in his room.
The door was locked and George climbed in the window to open the door, when Sam woke up, he got aggressive and drove his mom out of the room saying, “Get out! This is my room! You have no right here! Stupid. Why don’t you all just die and leave me alone! ” his mother, looking defeated, got out of his room looking hurt and helpless. It was evident from the start that Robin “called the shots” when it comes to her relationship with George.
It was evident whenever she talked with George Jung (but this was during the first half of the film; before the conflict/issue) it was like she was always in command even thought they were separated for a few years already. There was this one instance wherein she picked up George from the hospital and she didn’t even said hello to him she started jabbering, “George, where were you?! You are inconsiderate and devoid of emotion!! She was talking to him like some kid being scolded for doing something wrong. Then, George touched her cheek and she became a little defensive and bit his finger. Even though George has not been a father to Sam ever since George and Robin separated, George made it a point to show Sam who was the one in authority whenever they were together/whenever they were around each other. He never tolerated Sam’s attitude like what Robin does.
For instance, George threw Sam’s weed and when Sam found out, he wet ballistic. He answered back to George like the way he answers back to his mom. Then George retorted, “Everything about you is my business. ” Moreover, he told Sam that he could earn back the money to pay back the weed of he helped George building the house. From then on, George gained the respect of his son. I believe that the power of touch/hugging as often depicted throughout the movie is one method that influenced the family.
This practice seem to calm people (when Sam was furious that he was suddenly going to spend summer with the father whom he grew with out, George suddenly hugged him and he calmed down); to make a problem disappear (when George told Robin that he had cancer, he hugged her and you can see through it that it was full or love and when he went out of the shack ad Robin’s youngest son hugged George, it painted a smile on his face and started hugging everybody); lastly, to comfort each other (when George died, Robin just stared into Sam’s eyes and they understood each other and so they just hugged).
Death also seemed to influence the family in many ways. For George, it made him realize that he needed to do something to with his life. He needed to be happy again before he died. For Sam, he realized that beyond all the anger he felt towards his dad, he loved him and being with him made him happy more than he has been all his life. Robin realized that living in a shack with the person you love is better than living in a beautiful house but without a husband present. It is evident that Sam is the ‘identified patient’ in the film. His deviant behavior is his way of coping up with the situation of his family.
The way he presents himself physically, his attitude towards people around him, his language, his music, smoking weed and being addicted to whatever kind of pills, everything was a result of the existing issue. There were two main families and two issues presented in the film. First was about George and Robin’s separation and it’s effect on Sam and the other was about Robin’s relationship with her current husband who is apparently never there and this also affects Sam indirectly. Robin separated George because she was not happy anymore.
She thought she didn’t love him anymore and apparently she didn’t like the way they were living in that old house. It seemed that she fell out of love for George because he didn’t do something about his life; he was the lax type of person; stagnant. George was unhappy about his job, his living situation, about his life that it affected his relationship with Robin and also with his son . Because of their separation, Sam seemed to be deeply affected. George was not ‘being a father’ to Sam during these times and this made it harder for Sam to cope up with. Sam seemed to blame George for not being there for him and for being ‘invisible’.
Robin’s new husband was completely different from who George used to be. He was successful, hardworking, and apparently rich. He was what Robin wants: a person with a goal in life. Robin thought that she had a good life however, she was not happy. Her husband was always away and always too busy from work that he did not have much time for Robin or his children. Aside from this, her husband doesn’t really like Sam. Maybe it was because of his behavior but one thing I have noticed was that he didn’t even have an effort to be a father to Sam; he didn’t also have the effort to be a father to is own children.
He did not even want them to touch him. There was this one scene during breakfast, and it was his birthday, his son kind of hugged him and told him that he baked a cake for him. Instead of thanking him and giving his son the affection that his son was looking for; he retorted, “Are your hands clean? ” Hearing from the point of view of the child, it would be devastating for him that his father did not even recognize his efforts. Apparently, Robin’s husband does not think that there is any existing problem but Robin thinks otherwise. It seems that both families try to ignore the problem at hand.
From my view point, everything relies on Robin. I see her as the main character that holds every move both families need to undertake. It was given that George was unhappy but what I do not understand is why did Robin give up on him? It was obvious that they were so in-love with each other. George kept reaching out to her but she seemed to be distant. She seemed to be feeling anger and resentment towards him. George also seemed to contribute to the problem at present. There was this one scene in the car, wherein George told Robin that he would tear up the shack and build a new house.
The lack of optimism and emotion in Robin’s voice when she told George that he didn’t cook up some excuse to get out of the position where he needed to get Sam for the summer. Apparently, there were instances in the past wherein George made up reasons for him not to take his son and this contributed to the problem. Robin’s new family was also experiencing some issues as stated earlier. It was obvious on Robin’s verbal and non-verbal cues that she was experiencing unhappiness in her relationship with her husband but prior to the resolution of the problem, she didn’t do anything to solve the problem.
She just accepted the current situation and it seems that she ‘gave in’ to the situation and let it dominate. There were instances when she was giving hints to her husband and sort of telling him there was a problem but he just laughed it off as if it was some joke. He did not take her seriously and his behavior was also prolonging/perpetuating the problem. He believed that he was doing his role in the family by providing them financially. He did not realize that his children and wife needed more than financial gain in order to be one family.
The reason why the issue has been solved was George’s health status. He learned that he had cancer and he only had a few months left so this triggered him to do something about his life. There was a scene wherein George was fired from hid job because he can’t change his methods. Apparently, he has a little difficulty in accepting change in his life but when he learned that he was going to die, he pushed himself to do something that would actually make him happy. First, he quit his job that has been making him less than happy for years. Second, he straightened his relationship with Sam.
He talked to Sam and he showed him that he was sorry about abandoning him. Third, he built a house. As strange as it may sound, the act of building the house healed relationships not only those in the family but the neighbors as well. This was a form of therapy for him, his son, and his ex-wife. Because of this, real communication started between George and Robin. Robin was receptive of his ideas and for the first time, actually talked to him about their issues. For Robin and her husband, she finally realized to step up to the plate and take hold of her own life.
There was a scene wherein She decided to confront her husband but instead to giving in on hid numbness to the situation, she started to stand firm on her decision. Finally, people started to recognize and accepted their faults rather than pointing to the other members of the family. I believe that the appropriate family model that should accurately depict what was happening in this movie is Bowen Theory. According to the Bowen Center for study of the Family (2008), Bowen’s theory explained that the emotional connection of each family is interdependent.
Whenever there is change in one person’s functioning, it would also reciprocate to the other members of the family. This was showed when George became unhappy and his actions, behavior, and relationships were affected. Each member affects other’s thoughts, feelings, and actions as we have also seen in the film. It was also seen that each member of the family (especially Sam and George) solicits attention, approval, and support from each member. George was determined to differentiate his self from his father; this act of setting himself apart from his father is described by Bowen as ‘differentiation of self’ (Nichols, 2008).
Because George’s father was a bad father (drunk, unsupportive, and always discouraging George), he vowed to himself that he would never be like his father and that he was better than his father was. Triangulation is another term that could help describe the existing issue in the story. There are several triangles and in the film like George, his father and his mother; George, Sam and Robin; and Robin, Robin’s husband and Sam. Each of the triangles presented have anxiety present and the recruitment of the third person in the triangle have somehow lessened the anxiety but does not resolve it.