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Instinct

Reviewed By desdemona
Posted 06/08/99 14:05:58

"Ignorance is not bliss."
5 stars (Awesome)

People don't realize how completely ignorant and selfish they are. This movie tries to wake everybody up to their own inhumanity, but perhaps we're all too far lost to listen.

Instinct was marketed (and cleverly so) as an action-packed psychotic thriller complete with Hannibal the Cannibal and all his witty remarks. But don't walk into the theatre expecting that. This is not a movie for the adrenaline-craving macho man looking for something to grunt violent approval at. Instinct is a movie for people like me, people that read Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment and feel more empathy for the main character than for the people he killed.

Okay, I've lost most of you. Let me explain.

On the surface, this movie is about a psychiatrist (Anthony Hopkins) who had apparently gone mad after spending two years living with gorillas, and another psychiatrist (Cuba Gooding Jr.) trying to get him to tell his story and to get him to explain why he killed. At first, the answer seems fairly simple. He killed because he went insane. He turned into an animal, just like the animals he was studying.

But he wasn't the animal. The animal is us. We're the "takers," as Mr. Hopkins so gracefully put it. We don't care what we destroy, as long as we can further ourselves in society. We destroy for no reason. For no purpose. Just because it makes us feel more significant, because we are so very little.

Part of the movie's message is the control that we all so desperately strive for in our lives. We are all living under the illusion that we can actually control ANYTHING, and that, through that control, we become free. But we can never be free. Not without breaking ourselves from the need to control. So we steal, and we kill. We ceaselessly destroy, but then when we're called on our destruction we shrug our shoulders and point our fingers. We kill and kill and kill and we don't care. As long as we can have control.

In Instict, Anthony Hopkins was the lucky one. He had escaped the pretense. He lived among the gorillas, they ACCEPTED him, and he was able to strip himself down to his basic human elements, the only things really humane about any of us. He finally felt peace; he was finally free. Free of control. And then that peace, that freedom, is all ripped away from him by us. By "humans."

So that's the message of the movie (don't worry, I saved the plot and how the message was revealed, I really didn't give away that much of the movie). Anthony Hopkins was truly the perfect person for this role. He WAS that psychiatrist. He took you to where HE was, where HE was coming from, WHY he did what he did. He made you feel. Hell, he made me cry. No matter how much one talks about people, no matter how much one theorizes about the inhumanity in every man, it's always hard to actually be proven right. It's hard to see the endless cruelty and the mindless greed. That's the message. Someone please listen.

Anthony Hopkins was outstanding (no surprise there), and Cuba Gooding Jr. also played his part very well. Perhaps he deserves a little more credit than I gave him--without him, Hopkins's story would have never been told. And through the telling of that story, and through observing others with the knowledge he was gaining from Hopkins, Gooding learns the true nature of humans and comes to respect, understand, and maybe even love, Hopkins. Then there were the men in the movie that just exemplified everything that's wrong with humanity, adding to the power of the message.

This movie isn't for everybody. It's obvious the writer had a message that he wanted people to hear, and it was carried out almost perfectly. But his message is one that most people aren't ready to hear. Or maybe most people just don't want to hear it.

Don't see this movie because you want to see some violence. Yeah, there is a lot, but that's not the reason behind this movie. Go see it because you want a reason to think; it will provide.

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