J. and I made the mistake of watching "The Bad Lieutenant" before we went to sleep. J. had a nightmare. I woke in the middle of the night, my head racing, full of scenes from the film. Harvey Keitel plays a cop gone bad. And I mean bad. Cross-addicted: he guzzles liquor, snorts cocaine, smokes crack, shoots heroin, all day, all night. His connection is a woman with red hair: a devilish, beautiful angel of death.
"Why are we watching this?" J. said at one point.
"For the plot," I said.
"Mim, there is no plot."
He was right. It was just one rotten thing after another. Some of the rotten things were exciting. I smothered my excitement.
One critic believes the Harvey Keitel character finds redemption in the end. Not so. The ending is muddled: he frees two men who may rape again. He gives them money. The truly redeemed character is the nun played by Frankie Thorn. She forgives the men who rape her. The film portrays a Manichean world: evil is as powerful as good. Is it really? Good and evil equally matched, forever warring?
The morning after this bad night, J. told me his dream as I emptied the washing machine. In the dream he had gone down a narrow tunnel, the end of which was death. But as he described the dream, he was alert with intelligence. He was sure of his interpretation. And he was alive! I went out for a walk. The weather had turned mild. I took off my gloves and opened my hands to the sun. I felt better in the tender air. For a moment it seemed as if I could see each particle of air.