The United States of Tara
Distributor: ABC 1
Release Date: Wednesdays, 9:30 PM
The return of the HBO series The United States of Tara provides Australian actress Toni Collette with yet more opportunity to display her incredible acting skills, but viewers may not thank her for some of the scenes she introduces us to.
Collette plays Tara Gregson, a married mother of two who suffers from a disorder that sees distinct personalities take over every time her stress levels rise too high. Considering Tara is constantly battling with a sexually promiscuous daughter and managing a gay son, her alter-egos get significant screen time. Collette demonstrates considerable talent presenting Alice (the perfect 1950’s housewife), ‘T’ (a wild, pot-smoking teen), and Buck (a violent, beer-swilling good ol’ boy). Tara’s fictional life is an overblown image of what we all experience to some degree on a daily basis: a selection of personalities that emerge under different pressures. A passing character reflects not uncharitably on Tara’s condition:
“I kind of think that everyone has a little it of it. I mean over the course of a day, how many different women do we have to be?”
But take good notice of the rating; it’s MA for a reason. Tara is not in control of her alternate personalities, and the producers are happy to show them doing things that would be disturbing viewing for most adults, let alone younger viewers.
At a personal level, though, Tara’s life reminds us that we cannot hope to lock significant parts of ourselves out of our day-to-day existence. Humans are all hybrid creatures – spiritual as well as physical beings – and pretending that one side of us doesn’t exist, doesn’t mean it will go away.
Release Date: July 15, 2010
After much too-ing and fro-ing, Icon film distribution has finally slated the release of the controversial film Creation. This production purports to tell the story of Charles Darwin’s unwilling publication of his world-changing publication On The Origin of Species. Starring Paul Bettany as Darwin, it spends most of its time examining the scientist’s family life after his voyage to South America in The Beagle.
Creation is a partly biographical, partly fictional account of the years leading up to Darwin’s publication, based on Randal Keynes’ book Annie’s Box. Paul Bettany plays a semi-retired Darwin living happily in the countryside surrounding Kent, years after his voyage aboard The Beagle. He resists writing up his findings because he finds himself torn between social and scientific loyalties. However it is the sickness and death of his cherished daughter Annie that finally drives Darwin to put pen to paper. Sadder but strengthened by his convictions he determines to shrug off the Church’s false comforts in favour of a braver view of our place in the scheme of things.
Released more than nine months ago in the United States and the United Kingdom, the film has been savaged for its all-too sympathetic portrayal of Darwin as a man. If historical accounts like This Thing of Darkness by Harry Thompson are to be believed, Darwin was much more of a glory-seeker than the producers allow, keen to take his place as one of the most recognized scientific minds of his day. The saddest moment in Creation, though, is not the death of Darwin’s daughter but the demise of the scientist’s faith. Darwin stumbles because he cannot believe that God could design a world where death and suffering reign. Neither can I. But I find it even harder to settle for Darwin’s alternative: that death is as natural as the beauties we enjoy.