Dammit, Looper hit me hard. I didn't expect it to. I full well walked in there knowing that the Twittersphere's general clamoring would engulf my opinions, but an independent version of my mind would have felt the same way.
And I can boil almost all of the film's successes down to one sequence.
Some context: I saw Looper the first time when I was getting over a head cold, and geniously decided to take an overnight Megabus to New York City for a Hackathon. I barely slept, and spent Friday in a sickly, woozy haze, taking naps on my friend's couch in Brooklyn and sleeping well past my alarm to make it to the Union Square theater on time. My mind was not in its prime state.
But what made the movie more interesting was how my focuse was drifted by altered mental state. When Sid falls down the stairs and disembowels Jesse, my gaze was focused on Sid, mouth-open, crying like a siren and blasting the gat-man with a mental EMP. I was told only later that Jesse had been exploded by the blast in a very visible, gory fashion.
This state made the end of the film have all the more levity. I wasn't putting thematic pieces together very well. Some strange part of me was still rooting for Old Joe, not seeing his overzealous determination that blinded his sense of reason. But when Young Joe stops the action, moves the picture into sepia-vision, and takes over narrative control with his voice-over, I was transfixed.
"Then I saw it."
"A mother willing to die for her son."
Ok, I get it.
"A husband willing to kill to see his wife."
...Alright, he's getting to something here.
"A boy, angry at the world."
"...it's a cycle. And it never ends."
Gulp. That moment punched the in the gut and left me to dry. It's not even that revelatory (all of these character traits are distinctly visible, and on second-viewing even more so), but my winded brain was blown away. The cycles of pure id that remained through the looped individuals, and the now-rare sense of humility in the future all made perfect sense. It was sci-fi at its finest--reminding us that the future is going to be filled with humans that have all the same problems that we do today.
And that ending shot. The serene moments of Sarah tending to Sid's wound, putting him to bed, slowly stroking Young Joe's deceased skull in the cane fields just like his mother used to, and ending on a content, safe Sid, resting comfortably. No future-buildings, no rocket-cars, no loopers. Humankind wins out over all of these mutations and gangland behaviors. We've spent the last 4 years expecting the end credits to hit with a bang, and instead Looper comforts us with a lullaby of hope for the future.
No one in the group I saw it with the second time spent any moments arguing about the time travel logic of the film. After the first 45 minutes, it doesn't matter. It's about people, and what they do when they're determined, and how they see themselves in others. It's brilliant. Just brilliant. Economic storytelling that feels fresh, modern, and absolutely entertaining as hell.
"You should go to China."
"I'm going to France."
"I'm from the future. You should go to China."