InstinctInstinct (1999) – Originally written August 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***


Sometimes it’s a curiousity that just won’t go away. Why is it that the vast majority of films which are mainly based in a mental institution are quality. “One Flew Overs The Cuckoo’s Nest”, the mental institution section of “12 Monkeys” and this film, are all movie memories to treasure.

Society has always believed that if someone is mentally different to the rest of us, then that person requires to be physically confined. This might be true in the occasional case, but as John Stuart Mill once considered, what makes Society flavoured is it’s variety in viewpoints. Mill pondered that rather than locking away someone with a different viewpoint to our own, we should cherish this persons opinion. In a way, this film continues along this idea.

In “Instinct”, Cuba Gooding Jnr, an actor who I confess to not being a big fan of, although who displayed excellent skill in the final ten minutes of this film, convinces his boss, the God like Donald Sutherland, to allow him to investigate the case of an “ape-man” (Hopkins). Cuba spends the majority of this film either talking to Sir Hopkins and learning the truth about society and freedom or talking about Anthony’s situation with Hopkin’s daughter, Maura Tierney. All three actors put in acceptable performances, with the occasional moment of excellence, and the plot of this film is, whilst not too obvious when watching but definate afterwards, apparently heading to a blatant climax at the end of it.

The thing with this film which I love, despite the almost forced opinion of loving animals and hating humans, is the idea towards the end of freedom. Are we free beings? If you ever ask a person on the street if they consider themselves to be free, it’s logical to assume that they’d say something like “of course I’m free, I have choice and the freedom to do what I want”. The problem, as this film points out is that ultimately, we don’t. The restraints upon us, normally by an authority figure in this society, hinder this attempt to be ultimately free and our desires to gain this authority by playing “The Game” only drag us further and further from ever being in reality free. Ultimately, aside from the cute Gorilla’s and a mental institute full of scarily likeable “madmen”, this notion of freedom is the most important part.

If you choose this film, I suggest you watch it because your willing to think. If you desire to watch Gorilla’s in their living enviroment, watch a nature programme with David Attenborough or someone similar. This film requires an open mind, and the ability to accept, that perhaps, no matter how hard we try, freedom is something the majority of us will never have.

About T.Bonney

Northerner with a penchant for optimism and self-deprecating humour. London based for 14+ years now and still love it most of the time. Philosophical, film fan with tastes for beer, rugby, reading and more.

Posted on 15/04/2013, in 2003. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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