Mojave suggests that the Mojave Desert is the go-to place for reflection and revelations about oneself and the world. Thomas (Hedlund) embarks upon that journey, but encounters experiences he never dreamed of. This happens because out there he encounters Jack (Isaac) who inserts himself into Thomas’s life after they engage in cryptic conversations about who they are, Jack being much more forthcoming than Thomas. After a brutal encounter, Thomas walks away, assuming he will never see Jack again. But then a man appears at the entrance of the cave where he is sleeping. Nothing will be the same after that.
Thomas is a successful screenwriter with all the accoutrements it offers (mansion, beautiful wife, child) in partnership with a studio executive. But that doesn’t mean he is happy; he is filled with ennui and existential anxiety. Hence, the trip to the desert.
Thomas and his partner Norman (Wahlberg) embody America’s fantasies about the successful Hollywood stars and executives who are completely unaware of the disillusioned and broken “99%.” This is shown by the cool confidence of both Thomas and Norman, who are preoccupied with mundane problems that confront them daily. In contrast, Jack is bothered, very resentful, and determined to “make them pay” for his unhappiness (about which we never get details). None of this happens quickly; it’s a slow slog through their encounters.
The basic point of this film is difficult to discern. Jack is clearly sociopathic (well played by Isaac) and Thomas is troubled. But the film never clues us in to the background trauma for either. Thomas seems to have “everything”, but the film does not make clear what troubles him so much he is suicidal. We would also need to hear something about Jack’s story that made him well read and possibly educated; but what has happened to him that made him outraged enough to commit criminal acts?
As told, Mojave leaves us begging for more; as it stands, it doesn’t make much sense.
A film that tells you little about the three main protagonists.
Grade: D+ By Donna R. Copeland