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Movie Review

Personal Effects a.k.a. “Amour Sous Influence,” “Por Amor”

MPAA Rating: R for language, some violence and disturbing images.

Reviewed by: Thaisha Geiger
CONTRIBUTOR

Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Drama
Length:
1 hr. 50 min.
Year of Release:
2009
USA Release:
DVD release: May 12, 2009
Copyright, Cinefilm Copyright, Cinefilm Copyright, Cinefilm Copyright, Cinefilm
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Cinefilm

Wrestling in the Bible

Anger

Murder

Does God feel our pain? Answer

Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer

What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer

Did God make the world the way it is now? What kind of world would you create? Answer

What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

Sex, Love & Relationships
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Discover biblical answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more.

Fornication

Should I save sex for marriage? Answer

How can I deal with temptations? Answer

Featuring: Kathy Bates, Mary Black, Keith Dallas, Serge Houde, Spencer Hudson, Ashton Kutcher, Rob LaBelle, Sarah Lind, Brian Markinson, J.B. McEown, Nico McEown, Aleks Paunovic, Michelle Pfeiffer, Anna Mae Routledge, C.B. Shaw, Alissa Skovbye, Kyle Toy
Director: David Hollander
Producer: Cinefilm, Insight Film Studios, P.E. Productions, TADORA Filmproduktions, Christian Arnold-Beutel, David Hollander, Stanton W. Kamens, Lindsay MacAdam, Shannon McA'Nulty, Tim McGrath, Brian Moraga, Gil Netter, Kirk Shaw
Distributor: _____

“The space between loss and love.”

After his sister is brutally murdered, Walter leaves a promising wrestling career behind to return home to see through his sister’s trial. At a grief support group, he meets Linda (Michelle Pfeiffer) whose husband was murdered after a drunken brawl. Linda, also, has the added stress of trying to subdue her deaf son’s rebellious nature, as he angrily copes with his father’s death. Through the trial of their loved ones, Linda and Walter begin an affair that brings some healing to their painful lives.

While the film’s packed with a talented cast, it’s sorely missing a strong script. Michelle Pfeiffer and Ashton Kutcher worked best with what they had, and their chemistry is convincing. Even Kathy Bates, who plays Walter’s mother, carried the film as much as she could. However, the direction seemed a bit awkward and the script not deep enough to plant itself as a thought-provoking film.

Slow films often aim to show characters’ growth and emotions rather than an action plot. While “Personal Effects” is slow; it is not at a tedious speed. However, the true growth of some of the characters is barely feasible as they are put through odd scenarios. Walter’s emotions were shown when the director repeatedly zoomed in on Ashton Kutcher’s face. Whether these close-ups were a genuine attempt to display grief or just to show Kutcher’s attractive features, they eventually become annoyingly redundant.

Offensive Content

There are about 20 uses of profanity, including a couple GDs and 10 ‘f’ words. The Lord’s name is profaned occasionally through the film, as well. Brief nudity is shown; both times are backsides. Once while Walter is changing, and the other is when there are flashbacks of the deceased sister. In these flashbacks, she’s shown slightly decomposed and burnt. In addition, the film’s violence is moderate; there’s some shooting as well as physical fights.

While Linda and Walter do begin an affair, no nudity or sex scenes are shown. They do kiss passionately in one scene while Walter gropes her. All others are implied with them lying in bed.

The movie’s main theme is dealing with grief; each character dealt with heavy emotion differently. Walter’s mom was somewhat in denial; Linda found peace in planning weddings and in her new found love for Walter. Linda’s son found his through wrestling, as Walter coached him. During all this, Walter kept allowing his own anger to build inside him until he became obsessed with the thought of killing his sister’s alleged murderer.

While God has put different things in this life for us to enjoy, it’s so easy to forget or lose the perspective that any pleasures in this life are merely temporary. The true everlasting shelter, comfort, love and salvation comes from Jesus Christ who hears us and truly loves us. It’s imperative to memorize verses from Scripture. So that in times of emotional darkness, His word may become our guiding light. In Psalm 18:2, 6, King David wrote of this:

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge… In my distress, I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From His temple, He heard my voice; my cry came before Him, into His ears.”

I do not recommend “Personal Effects.” There’s nothing stellar in the film, and it’s barely interesting throughout its run. The one touching relationship is between Linda’s son Clay and Walter, when Clay begins to train to become a wrestler. However, the final ruination, for me, is the ending; it’s quite odd and out of place, making this mediocre film a one-time view.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

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Comments from young people
Negative—This movie was great, with emotions being portrayed effectively and artistically. However, when it comes to morality, this film is quite deplorable. Several characters said most of the colorful curse words of today, and two are seen lying in bed together. Also, the movie was extremely depressing, with some scenes that were excessively traumatizing once taken into context. On the other hand, vengeance and anger were demonized, something Hollywood fails to do these days. This movie should be avoided, unless you can handle depressing conditions.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Raul, age 15 (USA)