Alice Englert’s film will likely be a morbid eye-opener to a small part of its target audience, but it hardly says anything affecting, never mind life-changing, to those who actually introspect and seek help. It is, at least in sporadic parts, an intervention for those of us who need it. The true victory of the Jennifer Connelly starrer lies in the serendipitous moments; it transcends the bounds of personal experience and becomes more universal. And that effect gels quite nicely with the backdrop of a group therapy-like retreat that our middle-aged, troubled, and very sour lead has gone on.
What Happens In The Film?
Elon’s a bit creepy. But that’s not the worst a cult leader-esque guru who runs wilderness retreats for rich folks can be. The painfully cryptic dialogue exchanged between the enlightened and those seeking enlightenment sounds just about as pretentious and ineffective as you’d expect. But the one who stands out amidst the grossly desperate crowd of people hankering for their spirit guide’s approval is Lucy. With her very evident discomfort with the superfluous ways her fellow spiritual awakening-seekers mask their lack of emotional complexity, Lucy responds at times how you’d imagine yourself behaving in a situation like that. So why is she even there? Judging by the passive-aggressive tone on both sides, the sense of her not belonging in a place like this is both felt and communicated by all parties involved. The practically royal entrance of an unsurprisingly self-absorbed model only serves to fan the flames.
What Makes Lucy The Way She Is?
Beverly’s the kind of person who’d get on anybody’s nerves. But her personality isn’t entirely responsible for the way Lucy feels about her. Like Connelly, Lucy was a child actor. It wouldn’t be fair to say that she’s full of hate, but bitterness does make up a big chunk of her active emotions. And when you think about the kind of trauma that she must’ve endured as a youngster in an industry that thrives on all-around exploitation, you empathize with her sense of self-loathing instead of judging her for it. It was an event where the participants would regurgitate the shame they associated with their idea of themselves. And to Lucy, shame was still living off of the money she made from the character she’d played when she was a teenager—the one that gave her an eating disorder. Beverly, being all young, unhappy, and self-obsessed, might’ve reminded her of the person she used to be. There’s time yet for Beverly to pull the brakes before she crashes and burns. Lucy’s hatred is partly annoyance, and the rest of it is embarrassingly obvious jealousy. Light years away from self-awareness, Lucy self-admittedly doesn’t even know why her stuntwoman daughter Dylan is cross with her. Lucy’s never healed from being raised by a suicidal mother. She’s a victim, for sure. But she doesn’t stop to acknowledge the wounds she inflicts on her daughter, all the while thinking herself to be the sole victim of the generational trauma.
Why Does Lucy Have A Fit Of Violence?
The entire unpredictability of the narrative relies solely on the fact that Lucy’s rage is masked rather efficiently. You see signs of self-assertiveness in her, but you can’t really see her getting into a direct altercation. Chances are, even Lucy didn’t know that this retreat, unlike the other ones she must’ve gone on, would actually have an effect on her. Elon’s not totally a fraud. But his most brazen state of honesty, like the emotional response of the mere mortals he is aiming to enlighten, only comes out when he’s frustrated. The peaceful mantra that speaks against the flawed idea of hope takes a furious form when Elon screams at Lucy for just hoping and not doing anything about it. Her emotional break only gets more imminent with her unresolved pain coming to the surface. As she pretends to be a baby and lies on Beverly’s lap—someone she hates posing as someone she hates even more—Lucy gets further sucked into the rabbit hole of unhealed trauma. She meant it when she asked Beverly to kill herself. But she only said it when she was clearly in a trance of sorts—still thinking Beverly to be her mother. You don’t really expect someone like Lucy to take a chair and smash it over Beverly’s face. But she does cross that line. Lucy would never come out and say it out loud, but it’s highly likely that she was still seeing Beverly as her mother when she attacked her. Why else would Lucy curl up on Dion’s lap like a baby? The idea of letting a dangerous intrusive urge take over was first planted in her mind by Dion, who, like herself, was a victim of parental abuse and had fleeting thoughts about killing his father.
Will Lucy And Dylan Solve Their Conflicts?
Bad Behaviour often has a zoned-out demeanor—so consumed in having a conversation with itself that it forgets that we’re supposed to be let in on things too. But it allows itself this laid-back communication, knowing we’d be joining the dots by ourselves. What else is the point of a breakthrough? Lucy’s detached misery is aptly juxtaposed with her daughter’s hunger for love. Dylan has chosen a career of getting hurt. No matter the technique or the skill, she comes home with bruises all over her back to match those on her heart. The familiar patterns you see in people who’ve grown up in cold, loveless homes are all you see when you look at Dylan. Her recklessness comes in waves and retreats before you can think of it as a quality she’ll never rid herself of. The dance-like training dates she has with her colleague are never without her sincere efforts to maintain their safety. Knowing Lucy, Dylan must’ve grown up apologizing for even mentioning her hurt feelings. And that explains why she’d laugh it off when she ends up in a neck brace thanks to her colleague messing up on his end and accidentally throwing her down a cliff.
Lucy and Dylan’s phone call before Lucy’s check-in time at the retreat sort of implied that Lucy was waiting to hear that her daughter would miss her. But Englert isn’t interested in tropes that have been explored often and mostly in ways that scream ignorant preconception. Dylan’s just had her heart broken. And instead of getting compensated for the injuries she sustained in that accident, she was fired. A mother facing prison and a daughter who’s had all the doors closed on her—no two people ever needed a reunion and a hug more. Or at least that’s what Dylan thought when she flew in to support Lucy, only to be hurt further by her mother, who’d never known how to express love.
We know as much about Lucy and Dylan’s history as their uncomfortable exchange in the hotel room allowed us to. Unsurprisingly, growing up without the reassurances of love that a child needs, Dylan’d shown symptoms of depression. She’d even hurt herself, only to be met by her mother’s frustration with having a daughter who’d apparently inherited her grandmother’s mental health issues. Lucy’s always tried to protect her heart in all the worst ways possible. She’d been so desperate to guard herself against pain that she could never even get herself to be vulnerable to Dylan. Instead of love, what Dylan received from her mother was the feeling that if she were to die, Lucy would move on.
How you’d read Leo, the defense attorney who’s strangely keen on helping a criminal, is something that Bad Behaviour has left up to you. Who he is isn’t as important as what his character’s purpose in the film is. Leo is often the bottle opener—whenever he’s around, Lucy and Dylan’s symptoms bubble up to take on more perceivable forms. It’s when Lucy takes an unannounced leave from her meeting with Leo that the mother and daughter finally have what can be termed a heart-to-heart. It’s the first time we see Lucy accepting a fault, even if it comes with an annoying excuse to make her apology sound insincere. The subtle joke Leo makes about Dylan’s sexual fantasies serves to keep both characters grounded and convincing.
Even during Bad Behaviour‘s ending, it is Leo who documents the first time we see the mother and daughter letting go of their emotional constraints atop a mountain. But something happens in the very last scene that kind of predicts what’s awaiting each of them in the future. Dylan’s completely given herself to her mother’s wish. But has Lucy met her halfway? She’s busy focusing on the little flaws in the pictures that Leo has just clicked. Maybe there’s hope for Dylan yet. But not wasting her last chance at redeeming herself by being a better mother doesn’t seem to be a big enough reason for Lucy to truly work on herself. History will most likely repeat itself with this mother-daughter duo.