I have to say I am actually kind of pleasantly surprised. It turns out that Caleb’s dad gives him advice and a book that has the effect of forcing Caleb to actually think about what he’s saying and doing to Catherine, and although he still along the way blames her more than himself when he complains again to his dad, by the end of it he’s actually behaving quite decently to her.
Of course, along the way there’s the usual come-back-to-Jesus thing, but it’s thankfully rather understated compared to the Moment After, etc.
Couple of parenthetical notes:
1. There’s this funny as hell scene in the movie that just legit cracked me up.
2. That boat thing? It turns out Catherine discovers Caleb’s extensive “boat surfing” involves more than just boats, which ends up with Caleb throwing his computer out to avoid wanting to look at naked women who aren’t his wife.
So I guess there is less Stepfordization than I had originally feared, but even so I can see why secular critics mostly panned this movie while the Christian critics went into positive gyrations of joy, because the marriage is SAVED ZOMG.
What I don’t think the Christian critics grasp (either because of their worldview or because they want to ignore it) is that the cycles of niceness and meanness are common to abusive relationships and Catherine’s extreme reluctance to believe Caleb has changed is a natural consequence of putting up with many such cycles and fearing that this latest iteration is simply another in a long series of such; where this movie does its intended audience a disservice is in portraying abusive men as ~changeable with Jesus in their hearts~, that is, insisting that magically a person can change just because they prayed the prayer, instead of conceding that these changes need to be born of hard work in counselling and admitting to oneself that one has done wrong by one’s spouse.
Also, I think it makes short shrift of the challenges in dealing with addictive behaviors; it’s clear that Caleb’s obsessive saving for a boat and his pornography-seeking are likely symptoms of addictive compulsions and while him throwing out his computer makes for great movie drama, it is highly likely he will relapse if not treated by a counsellor experienced in such things, since he needs to develop the proper coping strategies to deal with them. Now I am not saying ‘cold turkey’ never works, but I am a bit skeptical that this presentation of it within the movie as an implicit model to people in the audience is necessarily a beneficial thing.
Anyway, I’ll get back to The Moment After II soonish and then from there, EoA! :)