So far I don’t think this was a great film to be honest.
The two stars of the film JF and DH are essentially in a compare/contrast.
Both are insane.
Both seek to escape the real world.
JF through alcohol, made of his own energy.
DH through mentalism, made of his own energy.
Both seek a sense of belonging.
Both are drawn to each other, work hard for each other, seem to love each other.
Both are effectively vagabonds. JF going from job to job, DH going from victim to victim. Both outrunning the law.
Both may have killed someone… JF through his poisonous brew, DH will false medical claims (perhaps for Lukemia).
Both react with a visceral violence when confronted by the real world. JF quite visibly striking out… seeing the man getting his picture. Attacking people regularly through the film. DH yelling when confronted by his parishoners/loyalists when he changes the language in his writings.
The differences that emerge are more in the physicality of the world taking it’s toll on them.
JF is numbed and then stupified. (drunk joy into irritable hangovers)
DH is lauded (given a trip on a boat and lodging in homes) and then arrested.
This difference between the physical and psychological is the main string between them. JF is stuck in the physical all the time and suffers for it. He is confronted by reality and also punishes his physical with booze. DH on the other hand is confronted by reality but escapes into the mental. It is safer, more lucrative there.
In essence, their representative sins are the same; just held with different regard by society and different timelines between escape/consequence.
The other major difference they hold is a sense of belonging. JF never belongs, but stays for a while. DH has found others that can share in his joy. His (DH) obsession is a social one, and in this he will always have one small advantage over JF. JF is seen at the end of the movie, working hard to find someone to be with still… but there is a sadness about her.
The other difference between the two is self-confidence. JF and DH are both delusional/drunkards in a sense. But DH has the self-confidence to sort of pull it off. He is the same in so many ways, but the consequences for him are so different simply because he is more confident.
So what can we stay?
– Perhaps this is a critique of cults… of scientology? essentially the same as alcohol for the pysche.
– Perhaps this is a guide, if plan to have a vice make it a mental one. One where you will forced into social groups rather than aloneness. One that is generally slower to unfold.
– Perhaps it is about relationships. Better to have a son that hates you than no son at all.
– Confidence, better to have too much and an exuberance than none.