Thursday, May 17, 2012

"Mighty Fine" Does a Fine Job At Exposing One Father/Husband's Abuse

English: Andie MacDowell at the Cannes film fe...
English: Andie MacDowell at the Cannes film festival (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Chazz Palminteri at the Vanity Fair p...
English: Chazz Palminteri at the Vanity Fair party celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Tribeca Film Festival. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Drama Sheds Some Light On Important Family Issues

     How's this for irony? The week I'm scheduled to review the movie "Mighty Fine" for Mom Central via a special showing at for Mom Central bloggers, I find out from a Sheriff's deputy that this time my estranged husband has made a public death threat towards me -- in front of my youngest son and that son's school officials. (He'd done it several times in the past in front of just me, but hadn't "graduated" to doing so in public yet that I knew of.)
     Scary. But why ironic, you may ask? The reason is that "Mighty Fine" is a movie that exhibits how a "ticking time bomb" of a father and husband can be abusive behind closed doors (and sometimes in the open.) Just like mine was off and on for 14 years we were together. It also demonstrates in some way how this can affect all family members.
     I have to admit I've actually been afraid to tell you the above personal fact, since I have often been stalked online by my abuser since I had to leave. But I decided I need to mention it, so you'll have a small idea of where I'm coming from with this particular movie review. Particularly, how important I think it is to expose abuse and some of the effects on those abused.
     I recommend this movie, premiering in select cities May 25th, because it has an important message. I don't see it as a "comedy" as it's listed on for sure. It's definitely more a "powerful drama" as described elsewhere on the site. But it has some great acting by all 4 family members, and an interesting story line, narrated from the youngest daughter's viewpoint when she's all grown up.
Mighty Fine Photos   
  If you haven't suffered from abuse of any kind, this drama may open your eyes. If you have suffered abuse, it can help you see you're not the only one.
     I also admit that I was almost afraid to watch it. Being abused is really depressing and scary. I still have horrible nightmares. I was afraid this movie would be graphic and add to those. So when my computer chose over and over not cooperate and not let me hear or see the movie for several days, I thought maybe it was a sign from God He didn't want me to see it.
     But thankfully this movie is not graphic or physically violent. It focuses more on the mental and emotional abuse, but not in an exploitive way. I know first-hand these are just as horrible as the physical violence, but as portrayed in this movie it probably won't add to my nightmares since it frequently wasn't as bad as I've been through.
     It is of course a sensitive topic though, so probably not suitable for children, especially with a potential suicide and a scene where the father almost runs down his own daughter.
     More of my opinions below, but here's some more info about the film's background:
The film, based on writer/director Debbie Goodstein's childhood experiences, touches upon the controversial and difficult roles that anger and aggression can play in a family. Mighty Fine tells the story of a 1970's family, who move from Brooklyn to New Orleans in search of a better, more prosperous life. The movie paints the picture of Joe Fine's (Chazz Palminteri) love for his wife (Andie MacDowell) and daughters (Jodelle Ferland and Rainey Qualley), juxtaposed against his explosive, rage-filled side, which he often takes out on those closest to him. The emotional abuse leaves Stella, Maddie, and Natalie conflicted between their love for this charismatic, generous man, and their vulnerability in the face of his unpredictable mood swings."
     Palmintieri plays a father and husband who has the traits of many abusers. At times, and usually in public (for example with his Dr.), he appears to be ultra sweet and extravagantly generous and complimentary to his wife and children. Right down to buying them a mansion of a home and a new and large wedding ring years after they've been married. (Another irony, my husband did the ring thing too, lol.)
     But the father is also quick to anger, especially when alone with his family. Rage is always ready to rear its ugly head. They never know when he will snap. So much so that the eldest daughter has an escape plan, and the youngest sees a secret passageway between the girls' rooms as a good place to hide if necessary. (I know first-hand we feel like we must walk on egg shells.) One of his daughters in the movie calls him a monster. (I meanwhile have likened mine to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.) 
     Andie MacDowell, an actor I have always enjoyed watching, plays the mother, who enables her husband's abusive ways in that she thinks she loves him so much, that her job is to keep him happy so that he doesn't take things out on everyone. She understands her husband has an illness and stands up for him with her daughters, to the daughters' dismay.
     I was disturbed she let some of the things that happened go on before, well, you will see. But it's easy to become brainwashed in those situations. Plus her husband "saved" her from the holocaust and was a good provider monetarily, which made her believe him a wonderful man.
     When the father's business starts to have troubles,  the film also tries to show a connection between economic uncertainty and its impact on people whose mental health is already precarious.
     While I agree that stress, economic or not, can negatively affect people's mental health including that of abusers, I hope people who aren't or haven't been exposed to abuse don't think of it as an "excuse" for someone to be abusive to them. There is no excuse in that nobody ever deserves to be abused.
     I'm glad the movie mentions the importance of the abuser "getting help." I wish it somehow showed it can be important for family members to get help too, but perhaps in the time period it was set in that wasn't done. Besides, it's a movie, not a documentary or how-to film.
     It's an hour and 20 minutes that won't waste your time and is well-written so it can be considered "entertaining." Go see it. Support independent film. Help bring out the truth. As Mom Central puts it
"There has been a conspiracy of silence among people who have experienced emotional abuse. Many families cover up the fact they have hostile home environments. Forced to walk on eggshells due to flaming tempers and abrasive personalities, these families go through their day-to-day routines pretending to ignore the tension in the household. The film, Mighty Fine, explores The Fine family dynamic and how the effects of an explosive parent can ripple through a family. The film strikes a chord among those who've experienced the often incomprehensible behavior of an abusive parent."
     It struck a chord with me.

You can check if "Mighty Fine" is playing near you here:
can check to see if there is a theater near them here:

Don't forget to also check out more info on their website:
the Mighty Fine website:

Also like their Facebook page:

You can also see videos of actor interviews on Youtube 
(there's an example below.) I unfortunately missed the live Q&A session because my computer wouldn't let me hear it. (Boy was that a bummer.) But you can see interviews by other Mom Central members of Palmantieri and the actor who plays a daughter.

Disclosure:  Please note that I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Mighty Fine and the distributor. I received access to an online showing of the film and a promotional item to thank me for participating
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