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By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
The New Age
Directed by Michael Tolkin
Warner Home Video 09/94 DVD/VHS Feature Film
R - sexuality, language
In his film The Rapture, writer and director Michael Tolkin exposed some of the dangers of Christian fundamentalism and apocalypticism. In The New Age, he looks at the soullessness of a California couple who have organized their entire lives around materialism.
The Witners live in a posh Beverly Hills home and enjoy all the perks of a wealthy lifestyle. Then one day Katherine, played by Judy Davis, realizes that her graphic arts business is crumbling. Much to her dismay, she discovers that her husband Peter, played by Peter Weller, has just quit his $300,000-a-year job as an agent. How do they handle these shocks? She goes shopping, and he spends some time with his mistress.
At a party the Witners meet Jean, a New Age spiritual teacher, who tells Peter, "Nobody taught you to be a man. I see blocked energy. I see you trying to cancel yourself out." With his assistance, the Witners come up with a scheme to keep themselves afloat. They open a trendy and expensive boutique. Meanwhile, Katherine begins an affair of her own and informs Peter she wants a divorce.
Michael Tolkin's The New Age presents a scathing critique of the emptiness at the heart of Katherine and Peter's lives. They are so addicted to materialism that they cannot see they were created for something more than consumption. They are presented with New Age options for spiritual transformation but are unable to act upon them. They end up no better off than when they started, living separate lives but still worshipping at the altar of a consumer society.
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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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