“You know what you have to do.”
A once-promising cellist, Charlotte (Allison Williams) turns to her former teachers for solace after her mother passes away. By chance, she meets currently promising cellist, Elizabeth (Logan Browning) and the girls are instantly infatuated with one another. When Lizzie starts to feel sick, their romantic adventure takes the girls down a dark road.
Um…this movie is gross. SO gross. I just think all of you need to know that.
Anyway, Charlotte appears to have a seriously disturbed personality disorder for the first 45 minutes of the film, but The Perfection twists and turns to a place where her motivation is explained. Manipulating someone into cutting off their own hand is a pretty disgusting gesture, but Charlotte has to get to the heart (or the hand, perhaps) of some even darker business.
In denial, Lizzie resists Charlotte’s insistence that their sexual abuse was NOT sexual abuse. This is a pretty common reaction. Most people do not want to deal with the reality that they were sexually baited; why would someone want to admit that? First, it means dealing with trauma, which is no fucking picnic. But it also means admitting that you were “fooled” or “tricked,” which is both heartbreaking and brings up that oh-so-uncomfortable feeling of guilt.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Both girls seem to harbor PTSD, which is also common in people who have been sexually abused like Charlotte and Lizzie.
Self-Destructive Behavior – Charlotte has extensive cuts on her wrists. She admits that she wanted to die after what happened to her, but survived. Suicidal ideation is the most troublesome part of unfinished traumatic business; it can consume a person if left unaddressed.
Flashbacks – The film starts with Charlotte fantasizing about what we later learn is her running away from Anton’s (Steven Weber) and Paloma’s (Alaina Huffman) Boston pedophilia pad. People with PTSD often recall the traumatic event, and some of them do not get adequate sleep because they are often disrupted by nightmares or anxiety.
Unwanted Thoughts – PTSD exerts control over people’s abilities to go about their days. When someone might want to play the cello, for example, they may find themselves bogged down by upsetting thoughts. These can fall into the flashbacks category, as the unwanted thoughts may be directly related to the trauma.
Give the Girls a Hand
The motivation of Charlotte is both clear and unclear; actually, the whole film is a very beautiful nightmare. It seems to me that she could have talked Lizzie into her senses instead of getting her to cleave her hand off, but the film feels a little disorganized regardless of this plot point. In a way, that works in the film’s favor. Someone with PTSD may have difficulty concentrating or moving forward, always reminded of the trauma that brought them to this moment. The winding way The Perfection builds its story is not unlike how a person with PTSD may find their way to the courage and wherewithal to kick the shit out of their past so that they can move on, in peace.