Spoiler Points for Joshua (2007)



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Note: If you have stumbled upon the spoiler points and would prefer a less spoiled take on the plot, please click here.



So, here's the big spoiling:
Joshua kills his stuffed Panda, all of the classroom pets at his school, his own hamster, the family dog, Buster, and his grandmother—or, at least, these we can surmise from clues in the film. He also drives his mother crazy and most likely also manipulates her medicine, possibly putting into his sister's baby formula prompting his father to padlock off all the drawers and cupboards in the kitchen to prevent him from tampering with or poisoning the food. He does not, however, kill his father, though he does put him in grave legal danger by staging all of the necessary steps to arrive at the conclusion he's been physically abusing Joshua since Lily, the baby sister, is born. Neither does he kill Lily. Why doesn't he kill off all these other people? He obviously shows no fear, and no one is going to believe him capable. He could have easily killed his mother in the apartment above when she searches for him during a perturbing game of hide and seek. He could have made it look like it was an accident that she fell and hit her head stumbling around in the dark looking for him. Likewise, he had every opportunity to kill his father, not the least of which was what should have been Lily's final night of life, when Josh convinces his father to stay with him in his room, in his bed, like they used to when he was little. Extraordinarily protective, his father has installed an interior chain lock to his bedroom to keep Josh out and has been keeping Lily in bed with him to protect her. Huh? So, yeah, one night he falls asleep with Josh, in Josh's room, and when he wakes, of course, Josh is gone. Josh could have smothered him, and then his sister. Instead, Brad runs and finds Josh feeding non-poisoned baby formula. What? This kid has made every possible sign that he wants everyone dead, but he passes up these opportunities? And this is the chief problem with the plot. The director has chosen to sequence the film with flash slides counting up Lily's days on earth. So what? Why do this if her days are not important. It's not as if day 62 comes and that's the day Josh decides to end her life. These days have nothing to do with anything. The time may as well have been a week as a few months because the singularly most disappointing thing about the film's plot is that we never learn why Josh is the way he is. He's clearly not the son of the devil like Damien. So why then? Was he abused? What's the deal? Has his father been abusing him and blocking it from his own memory? Who knows? We'll never know because, apparently, the artistic conclusion which has Joshua's Uncle Ned playing an original composition on the piano while movers pack up their belongings. With Brad in jail on suspicion of abusing Josh based on an encounter in a public park with 30 witnesses to him throttling the kid and a wholesale catalog of drawings he's made which are textbook proof of childe abuse, his grandmother dead at the bottom of the Brooklyn Museum of Art stairs, and his mother in the funny farm, there's no one left to take care of Josh and Lily, but Ned. And Joshua says, "Doesn't this feel right? Isn't this how it always should have been." Watch your back Ned and don't ever think of mentioning you might be planning to send him away to boarding school or you're likely to endure the fate of your brother-in-law.

So, indeed, my biggest qualms with the film is that the writers did not commit to either explaining Joshua nor to him really becoming the monster. He is a monster. It's pretty clear that he killed his grandmother, though she honestly could have fallen. We know that he drove his mother crazy or, at least, pushed her over the edge. So, why not have him go all the way? It might have been the more artistically enthralling way to end the film without explanation, but the device can also be used when the writers don't know where to go next. They've built all this up, but cannot figure out how to end it or where to go with it. There is no good triumphs over evil in this film, and we are left without knowing what will happen to Joshua, why he's this way, nor whether he will eventually take the lives of those remaining in his life. Artistically, it is up to us to decide. We don’t get the perfect resolution like in The Good Son where Susan Evans must choose to drop one of two children off a cliff, her own son Henry who has been wreaking havoc on their lives for months, or her nephew Mark. Guess which one she chooses?

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm not so sure that the writers left this movie without an ending. I think the message is in Joshua's composition at the end of the son, as well as hidden in the nature of his relationship with his parents throughout the movie. Joshua is a constant figure in the film, however, when his parents are present, he becomes scenery. He repeatedly questions his parents love for him, however discusses in his song that he never doubted his uncle's love for him. Perhaps the point was not for Joshua to continue to kill until there was no one left, but rather to set it up such that custody of him and his sister should go to his uncle "as it always should have been". With his mother, grandmother and father out of the way, the only relative who could take custody of he and his sister was his uncle.

Anonymous said...

Joshua is definitely a disturbed child, but it must be questioned why he is the way he is. Parental influence must have played some role in this. Although I don't think Joshua has been abused, as is claimed in this movie, I think his mother and father are both unstable to different degrees. Being as bright as he is, Joshua is probably very aware of this. And like the person who posted the last comment, I believe he does everything he does not purely because he is evil. I think he just wants to live a life with his uncle that would be drastically better for him than the current situation with his parents.

Anonymous said...

the movie is okay but it has a lot of loopholes. Joshua is a sick child who is both brilliant and insane. his actions were all well calculated and planned. this is a case of extreme sibling rivalry..Joshua has been very insecure with his parents' love for him which was brought about by Lily his baby sister. I think Joshua idolizes his uncle too much that he did everything just to ruin his own parents so that he could be with his uncle who was also a disturbed man.

Anonymous said...

I had a different take on the film. Firstly, I belive that Joshua was abused. The drawings, trail of dead pets etc point to this - and there is no doubt there is something wrong with the child. Also let's not forget the bruising on Joshua's back to which the Dad exclaimed "who did this to you?". The end scene in which Josh and Ned are playing the piano together indicate to me the possibility of Ned abusing Joshua... I believe that someone was, but Ned seems the only one to have had the proximity of doing so.

Tenanio said...

Do you know what Joshua said to his sister on the video which is watched by Brad ? You know, the video recorded by Joshua during the night with the infrared video-camera. I did'nt hear what he said...

The theory in which Joshua has been abused by Ned is possible. But I think he feels forsaken by his mother who is always with Lily, and by his father who is always working (and maybe is cheating on Abby)...

So, he has just wanted to change his parents by Ned without killing... And I think it because of the video that he started to look for separate from his parents.