2. Disgrace (2009) [Rated R for sexual content, nudity, some violence and brief language.]

summary from imdb.com:

After having an affair with a student, a Cape Town professor moves to the Eastern Cape, where he gets caught up in a mess of post-apartheid politics.

directed by: Steve Jacobs

starring: John Malkovich

Non-Conservative Reviews

The trailer.

Abortion/Life Content:

John Malkovich: I lied. I wanted to see if you were alright. I miss you.

Jessica Haines: I’m pregnant.

John Malkovich: You’re what?

Jessica Haines: I’m pregnant.

John Malkovich: From that day?

Jessica Haines: From that day.

John Malkovich: But I thought you said you’d taken care of it with that woman GP.

Jessica Haines: I’m not having an abortion.

John Malkovich: Are you telling me you’re going to have the child?

Jessica Haines: Yes.

John Malkovich: A child from one of those men?

Jessica Haines: Yes.

John Malkovich: But why, Lucy?

Jessica Haines: I’m a woman, David. Do you think I hate children? Must I choose against a child because of who the father is?

John Malkovich: And your mind’s made up?

Jessica Haines: Yes.

John Malkovich: Very well. I’ll stand by you no matter what.


Foregoing the abortion seems to be more out of Leftist politics and white guilt than love for the unborn child. Here are some excerpts from a few leftist reviews of the movie:

from LA Weekly:

Dour, detached, and oozinggeneral contempt, the professor of literature who runs afoul of postapartheid South Africa in Australian director Steve Jacobs’ Disgrace might have been written for John Malkovich. In this film adaptation of J.M. Coetzee’s brilliant 1999 novel, the actor brings his languid creepiness, along with a hard-working Cape Town accent, to the part of David Lurie, a snooty, 50-ish academic with an aestheticized passion for the Romantic poets. Divorced and still fancying himself a roué, David maintains a chilly, power-tripping attraction to women of color that leads him to seduce — some would say, rape — a beautiful mixed-race student named Melanie (Antoinette Engel). Such is David’s arrogance that when a multiracial academic committee accuses him of flouting university rules, he readily concedes his guilt. “I was enriched by the experience,” he says, rubbing in his disdain for political correctness while refusing to meet the committee’s demands for a public apology.

Forced to resign, David leaves Cape Town for the backcountry, where his daughter, Lucy (South African newcomer Jessica Haines), a lesbian hippie as idealistic as her father is disenchanted, farms her small homestead in precarious harmony with Petrus (Eriq Ebouaney), her inscrutable black overseer. Prodded by Lucy, David reluctantly volunteers at a local pet clinic, where a middle-aged animal-rights activist named Bev (Fiona Press) euthanizes unwanted dogs. It’s in these backwoods, a habitat as scrubby, raw and concrete as his city life was tastefully abstract, that David will be profoundly humbled and transformed by a shocking sequence of events. But if you know your Coetzee, you won’t be expecting a nice, liberal parable in which everyone learns to get along. There’s no Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Disgrace, no institutionalized acts of mercy, no olive branches extended from white to black or vice versa. Instead, the long-suppressed hatred of South African blacks for their erstwhile masters bubbles up in an ostensible robbery that turns into a rape and beating, whose savagery mirrors, then far surpasses, what David has done. Differentially scarred by the attack, he and Lucy react according to their disparate natures and political bents. […]

In fact, Disgrace looks the chaos and hatred of postapartheid South Africa squarely in the face, probing the terrible fallout from white denial and pride without patronizing blacks by caricaturing them as noble victims. David may fancy himself apolitical, but his intransigence echoes that of South Africa’s former President P.W. Botha, who failed to show up when summoned before a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. And the film will surely resonate with audiences in Australia — whose government recently issued a formal apology to its Aboriginal population, and where Coetzee now lives — and wherever skin color has been made a basis for rigid social hierarchy.

Prior to his reckoning, David is not pro-apartheid. He’s something worse: a man who’s not for anything other than the gratification of his own desires and the arbitrary assertion of a droit du seigneur that was bred in the bone of white South Africans, or at least the country’s white males. But by the end of Disgrace, David has come to the painful yet oddly peaceful recognition that in the new South Africa, men like him have grown obsolete. It’s the women who “do what must be done.” Lucy’s decision about the baby she’s carrying, the land she lives off, and the people she lives with, may seem as bizarrely over the top to Western audiences as it does to her father — certainly, it made me catch my breath. Yet in making up her mind, she reveals herself not as the dippy hippie we thought she was, but as a practical representative of a new generation of whites who understand the precise magnitude of the debt run up by their parents, a debt that they must now figure out how to repay.

from Bina007:

Lurie’s daughter Lucy lives alone on a small farm, and runs a market garden and dog-kennel. She makes a show of practical independence, but it soon transpires that she is dependent for practical help and protection from her black “dog-man” Petrus, an ambitious New South African who will play the system of land grants and maybe something more sinister, to cement his ascendency over Lucy. Three young black men gang-rape and impregnate Lucy – an act even more traumatic because she is a lesbian – and lock the desperate Lurie in a bathroom before setting him alight. Lurie is fiercely angry, and wants Lucy to prosecute what turns out to be Petrus’ nephew, or maybe even son, but Lucy refuses. She will not run away from her country, and knows that the price of remaining is to accept subjugation by Petrus and to carry the baby to term. Lurie shares the reaction of the reader/audience – sheer shock that Lucy will not conform to our expectations of what a rape victim should do and feel….

from “World. Oyster. Stage.”

The daughter is attacked and gang-raped in her house after showing a kindness to a stranger; her father is beaten unconscious and can’t help her. We don’t see any of the attack on her, but we know. We see it from the father’s perspective. What happens afterwards is the puzzling bit, and the audience, I suspect, was meant to be as confused as the father when the girl refuses to leave her farm, doesn’t want to make trouble by going to the police, and even when one of the attackers shows up at her neighbour’s place at a party, and is his nephew, she still decides to stay and not cause a scene. She is pregnant from the attack, and as her belly swells, other things come into play. Her African neighbour offers an arrangement where she can become his wife and give him some more land, and in return receive his protection. There have been suggestions that the baddies will come back; there’s also the suggestion that her neighbour was somehow involved (he was away the day of the attack, which the father sees as a bit too coincidental.) […]

Why doesn’t she leave and go somewhere safer? She refuses these things when her father asks. It’s like she is resigned to something; is she trading her life as a form of redemption for what she sees as her forefathers’ crimes of invasion?

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1 Response to Disgrace

  1. Pingback: Welcome | Abortion in Film

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