‘Writers Choice’ is a monthly segment. Each month a theme will be chosen and the contributors asked to choose a film to mini-review based around said theme. This months theme is ‘Jealously’.
Jealousy is a cycle. It’s an emotion that can turn into anger, agitation and all the above in just seconds, and Laurent excellently portrays this trickle-down effect throughout Respire. Respire, a 2014 French film directed by director-actress Mélanie Laurent (Inglorious Bastards), is undeniably one of the most phenomenal foreign films I’ve watched. The psychological coming-of-age-drama-that’s-not-your-typical-coming-of-age-drama follows two 17 year-old schoolgirls who are friends turned lesbian lovers turned enemies, and jealousy keeps this film pumping to its tragic, ominous and inevitable end.
The film opens with Charlie (our protagonist)’s parents arguing, and we later discover that her father has cheated – again. The mother’s jealousy doesn’t grow into frustration at her narcissist partner, but internal pain and self-blame. Charlie goes on to become obsessed on new-girl Sarah, her jealousy converted into co-dependency and paranoia. Their relationship also causes Charlie’s (ex) best friend to channel her jealousy into annoyance and worry as she’s isolated from their budding kinship. Suddenly, when a plot twist turns Sarah against Charlie, the former isolates Charlie from her friends in a tragic manner, and the jealousy leads them both to their already doomed and depressingly unhappy ending.
Many other themes are thoroughly explored in this movie, and jealousy is used as a catalyst for many of these. If you haven’t given it a watch, do so when you can. –Sharon Igbokwe
Upon re-watching Darren Aronofsky’s ‘Black Swan’, an unusual psychological drama centred on the inner world of ballet, I found that there are only really two major themes that drive it: passion and jealousy. These provide both the dizzying heights that the film’s protagonist, Nina, hits and the staggering lows that creep up on her. ‘Black Swan’ is a fantastic portrayal of the limits we push ourselves to and the boundaries that we are willing to break in order to achieve success and, so, jealousy is focused on heavily throughout the movie, as it is often serves as the driving force behind Nina’s attempts to win. The main form in which this theme is presented to us is through her fear of inferiority, particularly when it comes to the strikingly talented Lily, a fellow ballet dancer and unintentional rival. Fuelled by a bitter desire to beat Lily, alongside the pressure piled on by her overbearing mother, Nina begins to tread along a path that leads only to isolation and insanity. This is what the film does masterfully; demonstrate to us how jealousy can develop from something trivial, almost insignificant, into a force that can reveal parts of ourselves that we didn’t know existed, parts that will do anything and everything to quell a sense of inadequacy, including inflicting harm upon ourselves and others. So, then, through Aronofsky’s skilful depiction of envy, we are able to witness our fascinating female protagonist both embrace and fall ill to the yearning to succeed, executed superbly through haunting choreography and a somewhat disturbing screenplay that highlight the intensity of competition. –Hannah Ryan
Amadeus, directed by Milos Forman, is a gorgeous and epic tale of jealously. The film is based on Peter Schaeffer’s play and stars Tom Hulce as Mozart and F. Murray Abraham, who won the Oscar for his role as Salieri. Amadeus tells an exaggerated story of the infamous composer and a fellow composer who is engulfed with jealously. When faced against the greatness of Mozart, Salieri feels nothing but inferior. Mozart can come up with intricate, complex and completely astounding operas or piano pieces off the cuff, whereas Salieri struggles for days to come up with a note. Amadeus is the ultimate tale of jealously within the arts- for who could possible compare to Mozart? Being jealous of someone within the same artistic profession as you is a deeply felt and complicated emotion, which F. Murray Abraham conveys beautifully. Salieri both hates and loves Mozart, he is enchanted by his music but longs to escape its bonds. What hurts Salieri the most is that Mozart is not this lofty or snooty man, but rather very childlike, his talent like a reflex he barely acknowledges, whereas Salieri takes himself seriously and struggles to compose. Even if you are not a classical music fan, you will be captivated by the astounding music. Milos Forman conveys the wonder and beauty of Mozart’s work; it is completely understandable for Salieri to be jealous of his incredible achievements. Salieri’s scenes convey the complexity and conflicts of the nature of jealousy- to him Mozart is “the voice of God” and the devil all in one. When competing in the arts it is a punch to the gut to find someone that is better than you, wanting to be as good as they are consumes you wholly, and this is what ultimately drives Salieri to madness. –Caroline Madden
I don’t think I’ve met another person that has seen Hating Alison Ashley, I used to be convinced it was just bargain bin trash that my mum picked up for me when I was in primary school, but it is a funny little take on the jealously that riddles high school girls.
Set in Australia, the central character is Erica Yurken, a slightly self-obsessed dreamer and avid narrator who believes her destiny is super-stardom that extends beyond the reaches of her schools walls. So caught up in her own fantasies and hopes for her future as an award-winning actress, she tries to ignore the constant bullying she undergoes at the hands of her classmates and her crazy, annoying family that seem to do everything in their power to ruin her life. Her older sister is promiscuous and feisty, her older brother believes he can spiritually leave his own body and become an agent for the FBI and her younger sister believes she is a horse. Obviously a due cause for concern.
Despite the bullying, Erica does well in school, not particularly because she’s good, but because none of her other classmates can be bothered. That is until Alison Ashley joins her class. Alison is blonde and pretty and rich and has everything that Erica desires, popularity with the class and teachers and a talented knack for acting.
After this meeting, the battle is on for Erica who is determined to out-do Alison in any way possible, with some hilarious and also disastrous results. But the film is not just about jealously, its also about judging a book by its cover, as Erica soon realises Alison’s life is not as perfect as she first made out. The film tackles issues of friendship and family in a hugely comical and zany fashion. –Chloe Leeson