The Thing I Like About …

Mr. Frost: how it makes you think about things.

In Mr. Frost, Jeff Goldblum plays a man who claims to be Satan, and who is incarcerated in a psychiatric prison for killing a bunch of kids.  When we first meet him, before his arrest, he is personable and pleasant.  He’s funny, in fact, and we can’t help but like him.  When he admits to the killings, we aren’t put off – we’re intrigued.

When the psychiatrist (played by Kathy Baker) assigned to his case starts spending time with him, she is also intrigued.  She is flattered by his insistence on speaking only with her.  She is drawn to his sensuality, his exotically handsome appearance, his intellect, his wit.  Much like the audience, she is drawn to these qualities not only in spite of his crimes, but to some extent because of them – Mr. Frost is simply a lot more interesting than other handsome, intelligent men, because we are fascinated by his darkness.

Then she finds the tapes he made – the ones of him killing his young victims.  We don’t see them; only the psychiatrist sees them, but we hear them – the little-kid screams of fear and pain – and we react the way she does: with alarm, revulsion, and horror.  It’s heartbreaking to think of these children suffering in such a way, and, even though we don’t see the tapes, our image of Mr. Frost changes instantly, and we are sure he is in fact Satan.

But … well, then, what was so appealing in the first place?  Why were we drawn to his darkness when we knew from the beginning what kind of evil he was capable of?  Do we want to believe that our own darkness can be as appealing? – that somehow we can still be funny and personable and interesting even if we have … issues?  Or are we just so eager to justify our own darkness that we’re willing to gloss over others’ evil deeds as long as we didn’t witness them for ourselves?  Do we only do that with films? … or in real life, too, with real people who do actual harm?  And what does that mean?

See … it really makes you think about things.

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