(I'm starting to like all the spoiler caveats. It's just a great way to rub the fact that you've seen the film in the face of anyone who hasn't and guilt them into seeing it.)
I'll write a proper response to you tomorrow, John. I spent too much time on the original post. I feel fried for the day. But, still, I'm intrigued by your talk of the film's ending, and want to bring up my own conflicting/restless views on it.
In my review, I suggested that the end was a regression, but reading your comments and also those of the fellow at Time's have made me think that it is certainly more hopeful than it seems. Not that I ever found it cynical. I assumed he had just gone back to his niche and was content being wild within it (even if I'm sure there's a sadness over losing Dodd, and of course, Doris–an important figure I forgot to bring up in my review). But there really may be something in his position, as you suggest, of him more passively accepting pleasure. He tries to play the processing game with the woman, as a way of flirtation but also as a way of reaching her. He connected with Dodd in the processing scene when things got emotionally real for him. Perhaps he's trying to connect with the woman here, which is why he insists she play the game correctly. It's definitely not a mistake that he tries to process her; it's also definitely not a mistake that he's lying down. The last line is a real dozy and I wonder whether it undermines everything. I'm not sure. I'm still going to have to wrestle with it all. It's worth discussing more.
As mentioned in the Time article, Quell doesn't aggressively hump or finger the sand woman at the end but cuddles next to her. It's a more poetic, and profound image then him merely simulating sex with her. Has he found out that he needs love? Maybe so. You may be right about the hopefulness of the ending, John. I'm curious to hear what others think. I still need to think about it. Either way, it tantalizes but doesn't frustrate me.
"As I wrote in the last post, I believe that the physical positioning of Quell in the frame is important." Yes! I wish I had a copy of the film so I could break down every shot, as I feel there are more riches in the positioning and framing than I can even recall. I certainly have been thinking a lot about what we mentioned in the pizza joint about how that shot near the end has this disruptive piece of breast hovering near its edges. As I was saying then, there are numerous shots where images blur or colors disrupt the edge of the frame. I wonder if they are there to entice us along, to lead us like Dodd's red shirt draws in Freddie? Or to unsettle us? When I woke up in the middle of Saturday night, I got on my computer and jotted down a few rambling notes. One of them referred to these obstructions. It's hilariously opaque:
"the film’s loose structure and frame with tiny piece in it, enticing us, like an animal, moving our attention span, showing what allures freddie, what distracts us, something obscure, an obstruction to the frame, obstructed narrative, restless wayward movement of the eye”
haha. I have no idea where that's going, but it's not bad for 3 a.m.
I'm excited to talk more about this movie. We need to convince you to love it, John. Time for some processing.