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As the film makers intended, the audience is left wandering and debating about the true meaning of everything especially whether or not Maggie did arrive from the future. Searching for meaning, where none may exist, and distracted, nay, coaxed along by deliberate ambiguous scenes e.g. Abigail's home life, the Department of Justice agent's hotel room debugging search. For me, the movie works well not because of Maggie's enigmatic charisma, or the Karl Rove/Rahm Emanuel man behind the woman, Klaus, or the superfluous mysteries, e.g. Abigail's narcolepsy. The strength of the movie comes from the blunders of the main characters. One the hallmarks of every cult is the separation of inductees from friends and family that they know. Great example is the split between the Asian couple: the wife deciding to stay after her doubting husband is ejected from the group. That is how cults test and determine their stranglehold over another person. How far are they willing to abandon their family and friends for them. Anyone familiar with cults, as Peter is assumed to have known, must take steps to not play victim to this old ploy. So, that means, you don't go in as a boyfriend/girlfriend couple but as a solo working in secret tandem. Pre-arrange clandestine meetings so as not to give yourself away cf. the clever moves two unmarried couple managed to upset the brainwork in John Grisham's [i]Runaway Jury[/i]. Given Peter's & Lorna's Q-branch resources, even Harriet the Spy would have gathered more intel than they did not manage to obtain. Another is the emotional weakness each has, especially Peter. Regardless whether or not he was a sexual abused child victim, he failed to create an emotional façade to serve as the crumbling wall when the moment came. Like the United States military bootcamp, cults breakdown people's emotional barriers and persona and rebuilds them up into a new being -- a perfect soldier to fight for the cause. Peter went into this blind. If you are going to infiltrate a group, then you must have your background story setup.
Oh, how did the Maggie know about Peter's student Abigail? Dude, any group that demands you change clothes, shower, and drives you around blindfolded to another secret location is not above spying on their perspective members. I am surprised that the cult did not design a test to wedge Peter from Lorna, or perhaps that was the case in the Abigail test. If they were making a documentary, then why did they never follow or question the other inductees? Joanne knew how to contact Lorna for a personal hike and private gun shooting lesson, so why could they not have contacted that obese inductee or the doubting husband to follow-up? That would have been a perfect story on the dangers of cults: Cult Destroy a Marriage. That makes for the central narrator on which to hang the documentary thread. [i]A perfectly happily married couple searching for spiritual enlightenment together are forced apart about this mysterious, charming woman who claims to be from the future. [/i] Again, we the audience are burdened with the problem of plenty. Too many clues and not enough context or substance to make a consistent narrative of the whole. We have a DoJ agent who has either watched too many episodes of "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." paranoid enough to search her hotel room for eavesdropping devices, or she knows something about the reach and power of this cult, or she is hyper-vigilant being this may be her first field assignment. Then we have the Abigail's non-event home life. She goes home and plays with legos -(not Legos™) with such an obsession, she must be physically pulled away for bed. And, what about the blood collection? Why was it done? For whose benefit? What, if anything, was being searched? Or replaced? Cut those scenes out of the movie, and the audience would lose nothing meaningful or anything from the central narrative. Those scenes added nothing to the movie, least of all, the plot. An interesting challenge is screening this movie to unsuspecting viewers without said scenes and notice the same questions and reactions arise. Finally, some here on the message board asked about Klaus's role. If Maggie just arrived from the future, then how did he know to search for her and about her identifiable tattoo?
Like good magicians, the film makers has everyone distracted by the obvious trying to decipher meaning from the final handshaking scene, while missing the true crux and cleverness of the film that human flaw everyone is a sucker for a good story and will try to make sense out of the meaningless or extraneous. The point was Peter coming to terms and searching for catharsis over his mother's death. It was not about Peter making a documentary as it was about his searching for some meaning behind his mother's death and blaming it on the cult of which she was a member; creating a mystery and story where none need existed.
[i]Granted the movie is in part about Peter's search, but the movie is so much more than that.[/i] According to one interview with Wired magazine, online, the film makers intended to create an unsolvable mystery. They added enough bits in their movie to keep every one guessing. They crafted the story so well, that all lines of logical tableau would remain open, consistent with the events in the movie. Your guess and explanation is as good as mine or anyone else's and there is no way to prove or disprove otherwise. Whatever interpretation anyone has, there is sufficient textual evidence to support such claims and likewise the negation.
[i]But you cannot ignore the power and meaning of the final handshaking scene. That scene to many is the crux of the movie, especially for Peter to witness it.[/i] Exactly, with regards to Peter. He was already at the tipping point but needed that extra push to be a confirmed believer. That is how most cults work, especially targeting the most skeptical inductees and members. Because if they can win over their strongest skeptic, then they can easily dupe the gullible. The handshaking scene served the exact purpose the film makers wanted to create: doubt in the audience. Leave us wandering whether Maggie was indeed from the future
or was she a con artist. The DoJ agent seemed to be legitimate in working and organizing Maggie's arrest, a single photo or not as proof of what she claimed about Maggie's scam artist background notwithstanding, at least, we know the agent has some law enforcement authority. There is a three words explanation that could easier resolved this open mystery, but the film makers did not what to give answers only to share a mystery. Some one elsewhere on this message board had mentioned what I was thinking when the DoJ agent was recruiting Lorna, [i]why did the agent not mention that Maggie is Abigail's mother?[/i] [i]Where was Abigail's mother, when all we saw was her father in her home life scenes?[/i] The Hispanic woman was not her mother, lest anyone thinks that. (Abigail is not Arnold Schwarzenegger's love child with the maid.) Whose to say, the handshake was not something Abigail picked up from some children's show, that Maggie happened to have seen at a homeless day center during a break from her daytime street wonderings or some morning recovering from a crystalmeth hangover? Of course, this raises the question about Klaus.
[i]Yes, what about Klaus? By mentioning Rove and Emanuel, are you trying to make the comparison between Klaus and them?[/i] The film makers have granted us another mystery in the problem of plenty, without which none need existed. • How did Klaus know to go searching for Maggie, unless, as some one elsewhere on the message board suggest, she was already a cult member and had attempted suicide or runaway but failed and was brainwashed by Klaus to adopt this new role as cult leader. • When Maggie was arrested, Klaus, phlegmatic response was "Let's go call the attorney." N.B. the definite article and the word attorney in his diction whereas a novice would have simply said, "let's call [i][u]a[/u] lawyer[/i]". He had a specific lawyer in mind as if expecting or experienced this legal problem before that day.
• Whose to argue against the possibility that Klaus is the real architect of the cult and he pretends at playing executive officer?
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