15
Mar
13

Human Nature (2001)

Lila's garden of Eden

Lila’s garden of Eden

Lila Jute (Patricia Arquette) suffers from idiopathic hirsutism. Her condition brings out the worst in humanity, and rather than suffer amongst us, Lila opts to live in the forest, hairy and free with her animal friends. She makes ends meet with income from her naturalist books, but eventually a strong, sexual urge overcomes her, and she’s forced to rejoin the urban masses, shave off all her hair, and join the rat race for love.

Louise (Rosie Perez), Lila’s electrologist, suggests she knows the perfect guy: a virgin scientist with a small penis! On her first date with Dr. Nathan Bronfman (Tim Robbins), the two seem perfectly mis-matched: she loves the wild side of human nature, while he trains mice on human table manners. Both are so desperate for physical love they throw caution to the wind and start boning.

Nathan's anxious dream involving Lila and a chimp baby! I'd take a chimp baby, just sayin'.

Nathan’s anxious dream involving Lila and a chimp baby! I’d take a chimp baby, just sayin’.

The two are relatively good at acting like a happy couple; she suffers family dinners with the Bronfmans (a family who believes one should “never wallow in the filth of instinct”) while he agrees to go on things as terrible as “nature hikes.” On one such nature hike, they discover a wild child: a grown man whose anthropologist father, disgusted with humanity, took his son into the woods to live like an ape. Lila is of course attracted to the man’s untethered nature, while Nathan can only thing of trying his etiquette experiments on a real human!

Directed by Michel Gondry and written by Charlie Kaufman, this has quirky indie comedy written all over it. It is clever, charming and goofily funny. While certainly the premise is totally ridiculous, the film still

Training the man-beast.

Training the man-beast.

manages to make one wonder: what makes us human? Is it our ability to temper our animal instincts with etiquette and culture? Or is “culture” just a roadblock to our true selves: the savage, untamed beast? More likely, we are strangely somewhere in between, a place where the grass is always greener on the other side of the mountain. That’s what makes it so hard to be human: we have the ability to ponder our place in the world. Ultimately, the only thing it seems all humans share, cultured and savage alike, is the never-ending need for sex, sex, sex.

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