Upon reflection, I think at least one of the reasons the movie was unpopular is because many people define success as what they would like to have happen to them — especially if they are identifying with the heroine. I remember, for example, how mixed the reactions were to the movie Brazil, some years ago; I honestly didn't really care for that one myself either, despite enjoying Sucker Punch. Consequently a bittersweet ending, where the heroine retreats into her own mind yet still succeeds on her terms, is not always clearly a success to such a viewer. Also, as I mentioned earlier, one of my friends noted he would not have come to see the movie had he known about the lobotomy scene, as that was a personal "squick" of his.

I'd guess the multiple levels of potential meaning and "reality" within the movie also added to many viewers not enjoying it. For myself, I enjoyed dinner after the movie with several good friends, all of us fascinatedly puzzling over the various potentialities and meanings the movie offered. Our tentative conclusion was that Blondie and Amber were either just aspects of the mental landscapes of Sweet Pea or Babydoll (especially considering the meaning of Amber's name, and the flat-out contradiction of Blondie's)… or their murders in the brothel were only symbolic rather than actual in the "real" world of Lennox House. We thought, were the deaths actual, Dr. Gorski would have mentioned that in her listing of Babydoll's "crimes" — and she does not, though she does mention the fire, the attack on Blue, and the escape of Sweet Pea. Hmm… that raises another possibility: that Rocket too was an aspect of someone's mental landscape, and Sweet Pea thereby embodied what Babydoll could not be, in respect to her own little sister.

Reading on-line later, I discovered there had been several dance numbers planned in the brothel setting, which were cut due to concerns with time. Frankly, I think that made the movie much tighter and stronger. The closing credits were rather interesting, as that was where the only dance number — "Love is the Drug" — was played. It was very slick, in dramatic contrast to the grimy, decrepit, and moldy environment of Lennox House. The brothel setting ended up feeling curiously distanced and archetypal as a consequence, with the dance number containing girls dressed as angels and demons, Amber as a sword-wielding Dragon Lady, lines of dancing chorus girls, champagne as a bubbly metaphor for sex, Blue and Madam Gorski in an extremely seductive and torchy number… it was, in fact, a creepy sort of insanity: singing about love as a drug in a setting where clearly lust was as cheaply bought and sold as were drugs.

Was it a happy movie? No. Was it slick, full of visual magic, campy fun, gorgeously produced, thought-provoking, a feast for the eyes? Definitely for me… but, I think, not for everyone. What did you think of it?

Similar Posts: