The Sheepish Shepherd

Here are some rambly notes I wrote a little while ago when I saw The Good Shepherd for the second time with my wife, Larissa:

It struck me how little the main character (played by Matt
Damon) actually does in this movie. He never makes any active
choices – when he is directing things for the CIA, he announces,
and others carry out his decisions. He is pretty blank as a
character. He does make a couple of choices with regard to his
son, though. But he also doesn’t choose to deter his son beyond
his vague suggestions about life in the CIA. Most other
decisions are made for him and he follows orders when he is not
giving orders. He does make the choice to turn around in the
hallway and go back to the Skull and Bones innitiation. He
chooses that life. He does what is expected of him. He has sex
when he is dragged into it, he gets married when the girl gets
pregnant, he goes overseas when asked.

He is a fascinating character pulled in many directions. Later on in the film, he becomes kind of puppet master manipulating circumstances, and yet he is part of a larger system that controls him with a frightening agenda of its own. It is a system that has spiritual components–where evil is allowed to move through the doors that are left opened wide, or knowingly propped open, or knowingly left unlocked. By the end of the film, the main character has opened so many horrifying doors in the lives of others, and in himself, that the winds have blown through and emptied him until he is a hollow husk.


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