Film Reviews 2017 - #13 Mr & Mrs Smith

Mr & Mrs Smith (2005)

I tried to watch this.  Honest.  I did.  I watched the opening bit, where Brad and Angelina speak to the shrink, thereby providing the opportunity to tell their completely implausible back story in flashback.  I watched the next bit, where they live their artificially dull lives in order to set up the "surprise".  I watched the bits when they each go on a mission of murder, when they suddenly acquire innumerable James Bond gadgets and when they get in one another’s way trying to kill the same man.

When I reached the bit where they start trying to kill one another, I could take no more.

Maybe the fact I turned it off after 45 minutes is just a metaphor for the relationship between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, which allegedly began when they worked together on this awful film and ended recently and well before either of them died.


It’s possible this outcome was inevitable: I have seen segments of this before, and always with the same result – I switch on, watch 10 or 15 or 20 minutes and then think: This is terrible, I can’t take any more.

I mean the film, obvs.  Not the marriage between Jolie and Pitt.


Hang on though.  This film was, I discover, a huge commercial success.  It grossed half a billion dollars.  Half a billion!  And it cost a hundred million to make.  That’s some profit margin.

Great numbers of people paid good money to see this film, and they told other people it was good, and those other people paid good money and then went and told other people, and altogether millions of people spent HALF A BILLION DOLLARS to watch this.

David, are you saying you’re right and they’re all wrong?


Oh god.  I don’t read The Sun or The Mirror.  I don’t watch ITV, soap opera or chat shows.  I never see copies of magazines concerned with lifestyle, celebrity or travel.  I have no idea why people are so fascinated by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in the way they manifestly are (since this fascination is the only plausible explanation for why so many people would have paid good money to watch this awful awful film).

This is a painful admission.  It is why I am so upset about Brexit.  Not only is a catastrophe unfolding; I didn’t even see it coming.  I hedged; but, really, I’m as guilty as tens of thousands of others.  I did not understand – I do not, and I perhaps cannot understand – ordinary life for millions of people.  I live in a white male educated middle class metropolitan environment of reasonable prosperity.

What do I know?  Maybe Mr & Mrs Smith really is a good film.  Maybe Brexit really is a good idea.


Nah.  I have a theory.  It’s all to do with the difference between “illusion” and “delusion”.  We know that the film is an illusion – it is, after all, just pixels and pretend.  An illusion is a trick, a game, and there’s a clue in the name: ‘lusion’ comes from the Latin ‘lusio’ which comes from the Latin ‘ludere’ which means ‘to play’.  An illusion is just fun, isn’t it?

But delusion?  Yes, it’s a trick, a misapprehension, and its base (lusio) is the same as for illusion.  But a delusion is revealed through its synonyms: dupe, hoodwink, beguile, deceive.  If you are deluded, it is not fun, it is dangerous.  No one minds being illuded; but no one wants to be deluded.

(Latin roots?  What is this? More white male educated middle class metropolitan bollocks…)


Everyone has and probably needs fantasy.  Some sort of escape. Some sort of illusion.  TV and books, hobbies and holidays, celebrities and philosophy.  Something to do that isn’t the humdrum stuff of life.

Hypothesis: the need for escape is a function of that which needs fleeing.  The more unpleasant your life, the greater the need for illusory escape.

And if your life is truly awful, illusion can tip over into delusion and, once you are deluded, you are in trouble.  You will not actually win the lottery.  You will never be Brad or Angelina.  You will never – ever ever ever – be able to live in the 1950s again.


So.  Mr & Mrs Smith, a truly terrible film, was a huge success because it doubled up: on the one hand (the illusion) you could escape your humdrum life and project into the film and imagine that you were sexy and gorgeous and surrounded by James Bond gadgets and all that jazz; and, on the other, you could deny your humdrum life and project into the celebrities (the delusion) and vicariously enjoy being Brad or Angelina.

Whereas Brexit – a truly terrible actual thing – is just a delusion.


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