MR. & MRS. SMITH
1 Star - Destructive
by Denny Wayman and Hal Conklin
"Reprinted with permission by cinemainfocus.com"
In a day when domestic violence is an increasing problem, it is not helpful to present a film which takes spousal violence to a professional level. Though billed as a comedy, implying that it is all a joke and we have no sense of humor if we get concerned, “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” is not funny. It is destructive. But that is not to say that it does not express truths, or that those truths are not obvious in the consequences within the film. It is to say that as a whole the film makes domestic violence humorous.
The attractive veneer begins with the beautiful couple, Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Mr. John Smith (Brad Pitt) is charming, witty and handsome. Mrs. Jane Smith (Angelina Jolie) is sensual, confident and mysterious. But their true selves are covered over with a veneer of secrets and unexpressed opinions as the Smiths live a subsequently shallow life as a suburban couple. Keeping their true identities as assassins a secret from one another not only almost costs them their lives, but also their marriage as they are not able to create a union of intimacy, trust and love. Never able to talk about their real work, or their real families, they live behind a façade which keeps them from connecting as a couple. This also impoverishes their souls as they long for more in life.
This truth that a marriage must be based on honesty, specifically on the absence of secrets and the true expression of deeper feelings, is obvious. But what this film suggests is that as long as we tell the truth about what we do, that we are both killers, then everything can be fine. We are asked to believe that we can achieve happiness by simply sharing a new suburban home with an attractive though murdering spouse.
The second level of destructive glamour presented has to do with the violence in the film, both domestically and professionally. Domestically, the film creates a scene of marital violence at the professionally lethal level. However, by the time Mr. and Mrs. Smith are finished trying to kill one another, their sexual desire is at such a heightened level that they consummate their arousal. Although the film has already shown the viewers a truly evil sadomasochistic scene, this scene further glamorizes it.
The professional violence is also glamorized as these two beautiful people are attacked by scores of other professionals and yet they are able to kill everyone else and not be seriously harmed themselves. Unlike a film like “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” which showed the realistic end of their destructive lifestyle, this film creates a fantasy that implies there is no real danger in the lifestyle they live.
The true nature of violence is that it destroys life. It does not lead to sexual fulfillment, marital love or societal peace. Assassins are not helpful partners with government and making them glamorous does not change that reality. If true peace and love are to become a part of our homes and nations, then Mr. and Mrs. Smith and all who live a life of violence need to change the entire direction of their lives.
1. Do you believe that two trained assassins could actually live their lives with each other and not recognize that something is out of place? Or would their own deceit of the other blind them?
2. Did you find this film humorous? What did you laugh at and why? Do you think that one has to lack a “sense of humor” to find this film destructive? Why or why not?
3. The implication that violence and sexual desire are tied together is destructive. Do you believe this film will cause more people to bring violence into their marriages or not? If not, what could result from viewing such a film.
4. If you discovered that your mate was not who you thought they were, how would you respond? How would that impact your ability to trust? Would you lose confidence in your ability to know who to trust?