Far into the rabbit hole many have gone to enter a world that only a cinematic production can truly encompass in its psychoanalytic, oedipal glory. Becoming John Malcovich, written by the cult screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, has become one that many cannot deny seeing once more. Not to marvel in its oddity, but to finally understand the evolution of the plot and the references being made throughout it; even if it takes one, two, or three more viewings to do so. Every sentence being said is laced with the life works of Jung, Freud, and Eagleton, thus strengthening the psychoanalytic elements within the characters and within the storyline. Yet the only way to truly grasp the nature of Becoming John Malcovich is watching it, ready to learn more about the psyche and its properties. I encourage all who wish to embark on such an evaluating journey to watch such a masterpiece. Therefore you can create your own interpretations of our sexual frustration, repression, and transference as human beings.
The most driving, and compelling force throughout the entire film is the “vaginal quality” when inside the mind of one actor, John Malcovich. Whomever experiences the sensation, no matter the gender or sexual orientation, is automatically changed with who they are and what they stand for. Craig was once an unemployed puppeteer who was then turned into a crazed stalker. Lottie was once a pet store employee who then became a lesbian lover. But Maxine, who never willingly-experienced the Malcovich mind, was the one I find most fascinating.
While she did not go through a drastic transformation, Maxine evolved with the new findings of such a portal. The way she viewed his mind as a monetary fund in the instant she discovered its power, is almost demonic and diabolical. Who would ever want to enter someone’s mind when we have a difficult time uncovering our own? Who would even allow it to happen, when many only wish for privacy? The complete exploitation of John Malcovich’s mind and spirit can be traced directly to the one and only Maxine. While yes, Craig was the one to find the door to a world unknown, it was Maxine who saw it as an opportunity of wealth, strength, and control when it was not hers to take in the first place.
I also prompt the question, why does Maxine only stay with Craig once he is in Malcovich? And why does she start to enjoy Lottie’s company when in his mind? She seems to derive pleasure by controlling others, which she had over Craig, Lottie, and Malcovich himself. No matter the circumstances, Maxine valued her gains rather than what the effect may linger upon her multiple lovers.
Maxine’s narcissistic attitude and egotistical demeanor only tainted whatever she touched. But why so? What made her obsessed with control and wild with ambition? It must be part of the human psyche, yet what sanction? As we search for what may fuel such a mentality, remember that there is never a definitive answer to a complex set of ideas. We can only try our best to understand the human mind, and the triggers that play into our daily lives.
Link to Becoming John Malcovich Trailer: