Author(s): Douglas Reese
"Only the Weak Survive"
Written and Directed by Tony Gilroy
Produced by Ridley Scott, Jennifer Fox, and Tony Gilroy
Music by James Newton Howard
Cinematography by Roger Deakins
Film Editing by John Gilroy
Casey Affleck ... Kyle Morton
Keri Russell ... Georgia Morton
John Carroll Lynch ... The Final Rapist
Unknown 5-Year-Old Actress ... Lilli Morton
Tagline: "Actor. Husband. Father. Prisoner...."
“Our strength grows out of our weaknesses”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson (American Poet, 1803-1882)
“You cannot run away from a weakness; you must some time fight it out or perish; and if that be so, why not now, and where you stand?”
- Robert Louis Stevenson (Scottish Poet and Author, 1850-1894)
With his wife and child in tow, actor Kyle Morton shoots his latest film on location in Colombia's largest and finest city, Bogotá. When filming for the action movie wraps up, Kyle's wife Georgia is clearly not ready to return to the States. Kyle being the caring husband he is decides to stay an extra three days in the city with Georgia and daughter Lilli. By foot, they travel the city and enjoy their mini-vacation, going on little shopping sprees and going to the movies. On their way back to the hotel, the family luxuriates by stopping at Simón Bolívar Metropolitan Park, staring out into the sky, Lilli sleeping in his lap. Talking to his lovely wife, Kyle learns unexpectedly that his wife was having an affair six months earlier. He faces the music of just forgiving her so as not to spoil such a beautiful moment. Returning to the inn, Kyle tucks Lilli into her bed and lies beside his wife, shutting off the light.
The light comes back on. A smack is planted across Kyle's face as the screams of his wife can be heard; loud enough is her cry to win over the fight against the buzzing of his ears. He turns to his wife who is being pulled out of the bed. He tries to reach for her but his whammed again, this time by the butt of a gun, forcing him to fall down into the pillows, now stained with his warm blood. Everything seems to go hazy, but Kyle still works on protecting his wife. "Georgia!" another hit in the face. This time, seeming less painful, but more commanding. This time he cannot fight back up from the bed. He hears Lilli crying, screaming as the voice becomes further in the distance. "Mommy!” she cries. “Mommy, mommyyyyyy!" A gun blast makes all sound vanish. And soon after, Kyle cannot catch himself from losing his perception of the blurry blood trickling down his brow.
He awakens from his dream, lifting up from the soft bed in which the hotel supplies. Turning toward his wife to wrap his arm around her and to tell her, "It's okay." But the truth cannot be denied that it wasn't at all a bit of his nightly imagination. Kyle is still living through a life that flew into the wrong direction. On a cold dungeon floor, naked, with his head full of doubt, Kyle would embrace the darkness of that dungeon, wondering what would've happened had he forced Georgia and sweet Lilli onto the plane. What would've happened if he had been more cautious over the grappling of Georgia in the hotel room and not have lunged after her? Would he have devised a better plan to save his his beloved daughter? Keep her from getting a bullet in the head that had the name of someone more deserving carved onto it. He also cannot help but wonder whether Georgia was going through the daily temperaments that he was enduring. Almost six times a day, somebody would come into the room, have his way with him. Cannot fight, of course, when there is always either a gun or knife in your direction. He's been there for thirteen days. Time to him is no longer a train of thought. All he thinks about is his weakness and thinks occasionally, but sparingly, about how to escape.
He is not fed, his bones become very clear. He needs a shave. A shower. He needs his dignity back. And one of the occasional thoughts of escape comes clear to him. His next predator comes for him. This man has a knife. It's worth the risk to knock it out of his hand. While having his way behind him, Kyle turns around, kicks him between the legs and slams the rapists hands to the ground. Till the offender lets loose, he grabs the knife and continuously pierces the blade into the side of the throat until the man is dead. He strips the man's clothes off, puts on his uniform, and heads out to find his wife.
What the Press would say:
After the critical acclaim of his 2007 Best Picture Oscar nominee "Michael Clayton", Tony Gilroy writes and directs the haunting and effective character study ONLY THE WEAK SURVIVE. Using Roger Deakins' haunting photography full of shadows and darkness, the wonderfully dramatic editing by Tony's brother John Gilroy, and the charismatic musical score by James Newton Howard that helps bring forth the complete horrors of the film's character. ONLY THE WEAK SURVIVE is "a beautifully made psychodrama!"* However, at the film's highest peak is Casey Affleck as the tragic character Kyle Morton. Affleck digs so deep beneath the skin of his character, portraying the destruction of a man who begins to slowly fade into both mental and physical insanity with intrepid moments of quietness and effective scenes of power as a man's affliction is shoved into his face. Affleck portrays a young man from his difficult professional acting career, to the happy man with his family wondering through the amazing streets of the city of Bogotá, to the man facing his demons in the dark of a dungeon, isolated with daily rapes and the agonizing thoughts of his murdered daughter and his wife who may be experiencing the same pain as he has to accustom to. Losing thirty pounds for the final sequences and being a demanding force, he has proven how great of an actor he is. Much of his endearing performance comes during the climax, when we are rooting with him as he begins to gain the strength to escape to find the woman he loves. And at the film's end, struck with pain as we have to face the horrors that she may not even be alive. That woman is played in a gusto supporting role by Keri Russell. Russell captures the essence of a woman torn between the secrets she keeps from her husband and the heartache that he can't seem to cling onto how important it actually is. Russell is "phenomenal!"** By the film's tormenting and powerful conclusion, one has learned to care for the character of Kyle Morton unlike any they can remember. A tragic man with his dreams crushed leaves the viewer with realization of how simple it is for happiness to slip away. Prepare yourself, because ONLY THE WEAK SURVIVE is one "powerful film!"*
* - Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
** - Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
For Your Consideration:
Director (Tony Gilroy)
Actor (Casey Affleck)
Supporting Actress (Keri Russell)