The well is deep with writer John Updike who died a couple days ago. So I thought it was fitting to quote him one more time. These insights coming from a Q&A he did with Salon when his novel In the Beauty of the Lilies first came out:
Dwight Garner: There’s a place in the new book where you say, “Movies took you right up to the edge but kept you safe.” Is that still true?
John Updike: No, they don’t keep you so safe anymore. I just saw a picture called “Leaving Las Vegas” in which very little mitigation is offered. A guy just resolves to drink himself to death, and slowly does. And he rather unaccountably attracts the attention of a very pretty Las Vegas hooker who decides she loves him and … I don’t know. It’s a story without any turn in it. There’s no point as to any real resistance. An old-fashioned Hollywood movie would have taken that guy, and at least at one point he would have looked at the girl and said, “Why am I doing this? Why am I destroying myself? I’m unfair to you, let alone myself.” He might have failed in the end.
I forget how “The Lost Weekend” worked out, actually. But that was another story of alcoholism, in which you felt a struggle. There’s no struggle here. No struggle. In the end, the movie felt to me a little flat, and French. It was rubbing our noses somehow. Rubbing our noses in something, rather than offering us a way out. In the old movies, yes, there always was the happy ending and order was restored. As it is in Shakespeare’s plays. It’s no disgrace to, in the end, restore order. And punish the wicked and, in some way, reward the righteous.