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Movie Review: Mike Mills' Thumbsucker (2005)


Do you have a childhood habit you can't stop doing? Sure, everyone does. Whether, it's biting your nails, picking your nose, or rocking back and forth, we all have things that bring us comfort. In Thumbsucker, we are introduced to Justin, a boy who sucks his thumb, even though he is a teenager.

Like most teenage boys, Justin has a troubled relationships with his parents, brilliantly played by Vincent D'Onofrio and Tilda Swinton. His thumbsucking brings comfort to him. His Dad ignores him unless it's to chide him for his habit, and his Mom treats him more like a buddy. Case in point, she takes him shopping for pretty dresses and insists that he call her by her first name to make her feel younger.

What follows is similar to what happens to Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes in Justin's life. He tries multiple things to make his life more meaningful: achievement, love, sex, drugs, and therapy. In the end, it's all meaningless. None of the things he tries ends up being the magic button that sticks. It's a journey of discomfort, pain, and growing to be a man. But this isn't just a depressing movie about how meaningless everything is. Instead, it's about how we try to make our life more meaningful through achievement or a relationship or an addiction that makes you feel fun or just numb. In the end, we're still just us with a thumb or ragged nails.

The performances in this film were great. There were many supporting characters that are part of Justin's path. Each of them plays the role convincingly.

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