Movie review: Answers To Nothing (2011)

Movies that contain separate stories woven into one another seem to be a theme with movies I have watched lately. The different stories in Answers To Nothing draw you in but they aren’t neatly connected. Or more correctly, they sometimes touch on each other in very loose ways.

The different stories in Answers About Nothing have little in common but all somehow touch on the abduction of a little girl. Sort of.

The performances are well done. A couple of characters are repulsive and others tug at your heartstrings. In the end, the stories are all about varying degrees of pain in human relationships.

There is the man cheating on his wife who is trying to conceive through IVF. He finally sees the connection between himself and his father, also a long-time philanderer who left his mother. He tries to find answers from his father about why he did it to help understand why he is doing the very same behavior himself.

There is the woman six months sober who is caring for her brother in a permanent vegetative state. By the end of the movie, we learn that he was as serial marathon runner and she the cause of his current state by driving drunk with him in the car. Their lives are bound together—she sober in order to care for him at home—until their parents fight for custody to put him in a home.

There is the man who is an elementary school teacher by day and a devoted hard-core gamer by night. He seems obsessed with the abduction of a little girl, constantly watching the news about it. He goes rogue one night in the fantasy game he was playing with others, leaving them so he can single-handedly fight to free the girl abducted in the video. Fantasy merges with reality as he confronts a suspect in the real-life abduction of a little girl.

There is the policeman, well liked in the neighborhood and new to the force. Shortly before his death, we learn that his wife died of violence, shedding light on his motivation for joining the force. After his death through which he helped find the abducted girl, we read a letter of dismissal from the force; he never actually became a policeman though he wore the uniform and everyone thought he was a cop.

There is the woman who hates and hates and hates and carries around a sort of self-loathing through her hatred of black people. (She herself is black.) Her healing kicks into high gear through a new relationship with a white guy.

To circle back around, the wife of the philanderer is an advocate for the woman caring for her brother in a vegetative state. As the wife steps from the waiting room to the surgery room for the IVF procedure, she grapples with having seen a text message from another woman on her husband’s phone. I kept waiting for her to stop the process, to opt out of IVF, but she is too enmeshed in needing or wanting a child. She has already been shopping for items, even buying a dress for a little girl.

The two married people are bookends in the wisdom given in the movie. The wife answers her husband’s anger over his mother not accepting that his father is gone. “She believes what she wants to believe, what she needs to believe in order to survive.” Perhaps this is what she told herself too as she underwent the IVF procedure immediately after suspecting her husband of cheating.

The husband, in asking his father why he cheated, receives this gem: “In human relations, kindness and lies are worth a thousand truths.”

Ultimately, what is Answers To Nothing about? Perhaps to show the pain that everyone walks around with and how each person copes.

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