Fear

 

“Just you and me, Nicole. Nobody else.”

Nicole (Reese Witherspoon) is smitten when she meets David (Mark Wahlberg) at a pool hall. Blossoming teen Nicole has no reason to fear her new boyfriend, but Nicole’s father (William Petersen) has reason to believe that David’s intentions are devious.

David’s Problem
The guy is in his twenties, so his situation is a little tough to gauge; that’s the problem when an older guy starts dating a girl in high school. The dude’s immaturity is less obvious because he’s with a girl that is still developing. The truth is that David is old enough to know better about all of his actions, but he doesn’t show any interest in doing anything differently. This means that although his brain has three more years of growing to do (brain development ceases at 26 years old), he is old enough for a full-fledged personality disorder. 

Antisocial Personality Disorder

  • Aggression
    Duh. David is extremely aggressive, but he hides this piece of himself from Nicole. He is incredibly forceful toward her family and friends, though, and his behavior escalates until he rapes Nicole’s friend, Margo (Alyssa Milano).

  • Deceit
    David will stop at nothing to keep his good-boy persona up around Nicole. This includes lying to her about his upbringing.

  • Manipulation
    Beyond lying, David smacks his chest to cause bruising; then, he tells Nicole that her father beat up David. He is willing to take a lie to the next level to turn Nicole against the ones she loves. This of course means that David can have Nicole all to himself.

Growing Pains
One aspect of Fear that was compelling (and let’s face it, it’s painfully 90s so anything compelling was a pleasant surprise) is that David’s behavior could be discredited as normal teenage angst. That is what can be so challenging about mental health issues: deciphering when behavior is pathological. At the start of the film, he seems irresistible, but the clock-changing escalates quickly. There is a pathological problem where David is concerned, but some young men and women lie to their parents about curfews or don’t disclose their sex lives or wear too much makeup because it’s part of their normal development. Nicole is a great example of a teen developing normally, while David’s development is a far cry from normal. 

The kid never stood a chance.

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