The Unpopular Opinion of "Georgia"
May 7, 2017 at 10:07 am #1033
Many people hated Georgia (1995) but I found it unrelentingly honest. Everything about the main character, Sadie, is honest. She at times seems to be able to replicate the honesty of a child. Our first impression of her is in the opening scene, she is curled up in the front seat of a car peacefully sleeping. She never has bad intentions; she just has her dreams and her addictions. I kept waiting for Sadie to sabotage her sister’s—Georgia’s—life, whether it was stealing her husband or somehow destroying her career, but it never happened. Initially while watching, I predicted that Sadie was the antagonist. I would predict where or how we would find out that Sadie was intentionally hurting her sister, yet Sadie never did. Her sister has access to record labels and opportunities that Sadie could ask for but she does not. The only time her sister gives her a musical opportunity is when Sadie’s husband, Axel, asks. Sadie does almost everything she can to be successful in the music business. Yes, Sadie does not object to take money from her sister, stay in a motel room that Georgia rents for her, and stay in Georgia’s house and eats her food, but I don’t think that Sadie realizes the social construct of saying no to the help. Her performances reflect her honesty too. Her version of Van Morrison’s “Take Me Back” which she sings for eight minutes, is described by movie reviewers to be painful and embarrassing, but I was absorbed by her performance. It was full of so much honestly and heart, that I did not find myself praying that it would end. I was surprised to find out that it was actually the length it was. She is definitely not as vocally talented as her sister, but her ability to express such honest pain in a song is incredible to me. When Georgia performs, her voice is beautiful but there is no expression to it. There seems to be no meaning to her performances. When Sadie performs, I can feel her pain. I find the ability to share emotions through a song a lot more powerful than vocal skill.
Perhaps that is why music is the main part of Sadie’s identity: it is how she expresses her pain. In the beginning of the film when Sadie introduces herself to Trucker, she states, “I’m Sadie. I’m a singer.” She clings to that fact. Almost everything she does is for her music career. Despite her lack of vocal talent, she cannot quit pursuing her dream. If she is not defined by her music career than what is she defined by? Her relation to Georgia? Her addiction? Music is the one thing that she believes she has, which is why she continuously tries to become a professional singer, despite her many failures. It is her driving force. I believe that the reason she cannot maintain a “normal” life with her husband or as a barroom singer is because her addiction. Alcoholism and drug addiction is such a serious and complex issue. It is what constantly disrupts Sadie’s life, and Georgia’s too. Sadie’s gig—singing backup in a small band that plays at small venues and small events—pans out for a while, until her addiction causes her to get fired. It is not easy enough for Sadie to get sober and then get her life together. Sadie’s problems are deeply rooted and complex. Her family believes that she will never be able to get a music career or even get her life together. Georgia believes that “Sadie’s pain must be fed. And we’re all here to serve.” I believe that Sadie could get her life together, if the effort was made. Yes, Sadie goes to rehab and gets her addiction treated, but I doubt that she addressed her other problems while there. She grows up wanting to be a singer, but her father tells her that it is her sister’s voice that has been kissed by God. No one believes in Sadie’s can succeed. It must be damaging to grow up where no one believes in you. It must be even more damaging to grow up with a sister who does not even care about a music career and becomes successful regardless. Addiction is consuming by itself, but adding these other deeply rooted issues to Sadie’s life must only make it worse.
Still, I feel bad for Georgia. It is not easy for her to love and care for someone with addiction and problems that she does not understand. She does try her best to be helpful to Sadie. The scenes in the rehabilitation center are some of my favorite because it is the first time that we see a relationship between Georgia and Sadie which vaguely represents a friendship in their sisterhood. Researching this film, I found that Jennifer Jason Leigh (Sadie) has a sister who struggled with drug addiction. Leigh used that experience in this film. I believe that the antagonist in Georgia is not Georgia or Sadie or anyone, but the addiction that Sadie suffers from. Her addiction affects everyone in the movie in some shape or form, but Sadie does not mean for it to. She tried to be honest and make her addiction function in her life, but it did not. I cannot blame or hate Sadie for impacting all these people’s lives because it is the addiction that is impacting hers. No one wants to be dependent on alcohol or heroin, but until the addiction is properly and thoroughly addressed Sadie will be. I admired this film because I feel like it honestly represented the complexities of alcoholism and addiction without characterizing Sadie as malicious.
May 7, 2017 at 9:29 pm #1035
- This topic was modified 1 year, 4 months ago by Melissa Maliniak.
I think you’re analyzation of Georgia is truly impressive. I can easily say that I did not enjoy the movie and I think that is because I did not watch it through the same lens that you did, but I wish I did. The points that you brought up regarding the different singing styles of the two sisters really made me think harder about the film.
“She is definitely not as vocally talented as her sister, but her ability to express such honest pain in a song is incredible to me. When Georgia performs, her voice is beautiful but there is no expression to it.” I completely agree with this point – the two sisters’ personalities are portrayed through their music. I did not fully realize this at first. Every time I looked at Sadie I just saw a Courtney Love wannabe, and every time I looked at Georgia I was just kind of annoyed because I don’t really like country music (no offense if you do). However, the heart and passion that Sadie demonstrates in all of her performances displays who she is and what music means to her, while Georgia’s plain and almost boring music displays her own life – she is satisfied with what she has, she does not particularly seem to have any passions.
Though I did not like this film at first, I think reading your analysis has made me appreciate it much more – thank you!May 7, 2017 at 9:34 pm #1036
Melissa, I think that you do an effective job describing and analyzing the “Unpopular Opinion of ‘Georgia.'” I concur with your identification of Sadie (Jennifer Jason Leigh) as “honest,” and found myself wondering if, at times, her honesty stems from being under the influence. Her expression of love for her sister as “the one person [she’ll] miss when [she] leave[s] this earth” depicts an openness that may derive from intoxication, as it seems characteristic of an alcohol induced emotional statement. In this case, especially, I find that Sadie’s addictions aid in developing her character as emotionally honest. You state, “She at times seems to be able to replicate the honesty of a child,” which I connected to our class’s brief discussion of Sadie’s niece, Michelle. I found Michelle’s maturity, depicted through her ability to understand and appropriately react to Sadie’s addictions, to contrast Sadie’s lack of maturity, and am curious to know others’ opinions regarding Michelle’s role in the film. Sadie is an emotionally honest and open character, and her lacking maturity is highlighted by the acceptance she receives from Michelle.May 7, 2017 at 9:57 pm #1037
I really like your analysis of the film and I tend to agree with the points you make. Specifically the comment about the antagonist of the film being addiction. I’m not sure if I enjoyed the film more because it was prefaced with negative reviews, but regardless I was pleasantly surprised by the film for being so real about enabling addiction, especially as it has to do with family members. With that in mind, I think that maybe the film is called Georgia because she, along with the film itself, represents dealing with the addiction of a loved one by unintentionally enabling it. Georgia’s broken relationship with her sister is due to Sadie’s addictions, but when Sadie shows up in Georgia’s life, she lets her in without initially trying to help her mental or physical health. She tries to help her by offering a place to live and money, but Sadie may have actually needed medical help for her addiction sooner. Eventually, Georgia does do the right thing and is there for her sister at the rehab center. Rather than the film being about Sadie’s career, it’s actually about the way in which Georgia deals with her sister’s addiction.May 7, 2017 at 10:59 pm #1038
Marissa, I find your comment “Sadie may have actually needed medical help for her addiction sooner. Eventually, Georgia does do the right thing and is there for her sister at the rehab center” interesting. I’m not sure I can agree with the part where Georgia eventually does “the right thing.” Georgia and her family may have been trying to get Sadie to enter facilities for years. The importance lies in Sadie being willing and ready to be admitted into rehab. Her desperation during the scene at the airport had nothing to do with Georgia. The airport scene stands for Sadie, and Sadie alone. It is Sadie who must confront her addiction, it is Sadie who must beg for shoes from a room full of strangers to be let on the plan, and it is Sadie who must stay at the rehab facility until she is well. What I find troublesome in your comment I mentioned above is that it implies criticism on Georgia’s actions, as if Georgia decides to finally help her sister out. I believe the focus should not be placed on Georgia as a sister, but Sadie as someone ready to leave drug addiction and alcoholism behind.May 8, 2017 at 11:19 am #1040
This is an amazing analysis of Georgia; though I was not a fan of the long, drawn-out music scenes (just for the sole reason that I hate musicals and any movie with that mindset) I found the characters in the Georgia to be extremely interesting. Specifically two of your lines really struck a cord with how I felt about the film: “I kept waiting for Sadie to sabotage her sister’s—Georgia’s—life, whether it was stealing her husband or somehow destroying her career, but it never happened” and “I believe that the antagonist in Georgia is not Georgia or Sadie or anyone, but the addiction that Sadie suffers from.” Addressing the first statement, at the beginning of the film when Jake was telling Sadie about his and Georgia’s problems with cheating I assumed that this thread would find it’s way back to a Sadie and Jake betrayal. Instead it offers something to the audience that, in my opinion, was missed by Sadie. In modern day society the social science field has linked sex and addiction. For some people, sex is their drug of choice. I think including this in the film was a brilliant choice for showing that Georgia is not perfect. She can harm others just as well as Sadie can, the difference between the two is that one beat her addiction and the other is consumed by it. Which leads to your second statement. I hesitatingly saying that viewers who know someone with an addiction can understand Georgia slightly better than those who do not. Sadie takes steps to beat her antagonist starting with the heartbreaking scene of her screaming for shoes in an airport because she just wants help. Sadie sought out Georgia’s love and support and it brought the two together for a short period of time. Yet, the Flood family has obviously been broken since the two sisters were children. It seems that neither sister knows how to fully support and love the other one without their father’s past statements getting in the way. Without working out these problems in tandem with Sadie’s addiction, Sadie did not have a chance to get better. For addiction to be beat a person and their family have the be truly honest with themselves and I do not think that Sadie or Georgia was ready to do that so the film shows the audience that the cycle is doomed to repeat.May 8, 2017 at 2:00 pm #1044
Your point about Sadie’s honesty on stage really resonates with me. Although I can’t say I enthusiastically admired the “Take me Back” scene, I really enjoyed most of the scenes in which Sadie performs on stage. My favorite moment in the entire movie comes one of the first times we see Sadie actually take the stage, when she preforms “Almost Blue” by Elvis Costello. Even though it was immediately apparent that the patrons of the bar weren’t enthralled by her performance, I was. I thought her really soft, emotional voice, paired with the zooming close-up shots of her face, made the performance feel honest and personal. Even though the entire band is on stage, and the song is a cover, it feels like Sadie is capturing her own pure feelings and experience in the performance. I would definitely rather go to a Sadie Flood performance in a hole-in-the-wall bar than to one of Georgia’s concerts.
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