Wednesday, 2 August 2017


“Morality is not the doctrine of how we may make ourselves happy, but how we may make ourselves worthy of happiness.” - Immanuel Kant 

We watched an interesting film at the weekend, which got us talking about “amoral” versus “immoral” people. Amoral implies ‘not concerned with or affected by morality’, so that something described as amoral cannot appropriately be criticised for failure to conform to accepted moral standards. It is lacking a moral sense and is unconcerned with the rightness or wrongness of something (for example, “an amoral attitude to sex”; or “the client pays for the amoral expertise of the lawyer”).

Immoral, on the other hand, means ‘not conforming to accepted standards of morality’, and implies condemnation (e.g. “they felt it was immoral to accept a loan that they could not hope to repay”). Our discussion concerned the anti-hero of this quirky movie, which was about all the shades of gray between the blacks and whites of morality. 

The Details (2011) Black Comedy - Directed by Jacob Estes; starring Tobey Maguire, Elizabeth Banks, Laura Linney. - 7/10

In King County, Washington, Dr. Jeff Lang (Maguire) has been married for ten years with Nealy Lang (Banks) and they have a little boy. Their best friends are Rebecca Mazzoni, who studied with Jeff at medical school, and her husband Peter Mazzoni. Jeff decides to lay turf in his backyard, but the lawn rolls come with worms underneath and raccoons destroy his lawn during the night. Jeff wants also build another room in the house for his planned second son, but City Hall blocks the project. Jeff decides to build the room without approval and he gives his mentally unstable next door neighbour Lila (Linney), a beautiful plant, hoping to bribe her into silence. Jeff likes to play basketball with his friend Lincoln, who has kidney failure and needs haemodialysis.

Things begin to go wrong for Jeff, as:
a) His wife refuses to have sex with him;
b) The raccoons are seemingly ineradicable;
c) Rebecca is far too amorous for a good friend;
d) Lila is unpredictably erratic in her dealings with Jeff;
e) Jeff is too irresponsible and prone to amoral and immoral behaviour…
This creates havoc in the lives of Jeff and everyone he associates with, with some bizarre and tragic consequences.

We quite enjoyed the film, but perhaps even more the discussion it generated in its aftermath, which was quite a philosophical one and got us thinking about morality and how people view it and what choices in their lives they make on the basis of their personal concepts of morality. Worth hunting out this film and watching it, not only because it is quite entertaining, but also because it is a film that makes you think.

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