American Beauty : What Was up with the Colonel's Wife?

What Was up with the Colonel's Wife?

she was like mindless or lobotomized or something?

Re: What Was up with the Colonel's Wife?

Severe depression would be my guess.

Re: What Was up with the Colonel's Wife?

correct, so she was on the same Zoloft Fitts put Ricky on

remember that Col F was in a closet SO had brung this "mail order bride" back from Asia to cover UP his closeteries

as such she had nowhere to go as to divorce him would see her back in Bongoland pickin der rice.

so she just goes along with the Beauty.

Ahhhhh der Beauty

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Re: What Was up with the Colonel's Wife?

Asia? Huh?

Re: What Was up with the Colonel's Wife?

Asia? Huh?

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Yes Vietnam to be more specific

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Re: What Was up with the Colonel's Wife?

Where on earth did you pull that "fact" from? Did you even see the movie?

Re: What Was up with the Colonel's Wife?

In addition to the depression, I felt that the mother was a victim of abuse. In the scene where Col Fitts is watching TV, she's leaning far away from him, as if she's afraid of touching him.

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Re: What Was up with the Colonel's Wife?

I got the impression that she suffered from Alzheimer's disease. When Ricky and Jane are watching the paper bag video, he says at one point that he needs to remember. I felt like this was due in part to the fact that his mother didn't seem to remember anything, or even be aware of the context in which Ricky is speaking to her when he says he is leaving. Her response is wear a raincoat. Implying that she was in a completely different place mentally.

Re: What Was up with the Colonel's Wife?

I feel really dumb asking this, but can you get Alzheimer's at that young of an age? I wouldn't guess she was supposed to be any older than in her 50s.

Re: What Was up with the Colonel's Wife?

Sure, or at least suffer from early onset of dementia. But to me that wasn't what they were depicting, she was just suffering from depression, likely as a result of being married to the Col and all the strange family dynamics that went with it.

Edit: I just saw a news report, some have been diagnosed in their 30s!

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Re: What Was up with the Colonel's Wife?

I thought she was suffering from Alzheimer's as well when she was making Ricky breakfast and he said something like "I don't eat bacon remember" and just some of her general actions. Unfortunately they didn't really explain what disease she had and she wasn't in much of the movie. There was definitely something not right with her though, especially in the raincoat scene.

Re: What Was up with the Colonel's Wife?

She was obviously getting beat on regular basis by her husband . The guy was angry because secretly wanted to be screwing other men. I imagine the trauma she was going through was terrible with the beating and forced anal sex. She was a broken woman.

Re: What Was up with the Colonel's Wife?

I figured she was basically driven to a zombie-like state because of her husband's tyranny.
But I found it odd how the film showed NO examples of this whatsoever. She has no bruises, he never yells at her.
Ricky is getting slapped around every 10 minutes even though he does nothing wrong, so why doesn't the mom?



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Didn't he discover America?
Penfold, shush.

Re: What Was up with the Colonel's Wife?

I think they left anything like that out because it's already obvious enough that *something* isn't going well for her, and it almost certainly has something to do with the husband. It'd just be hitting you over the head with it.

Re: What Was up with the Colonel's Wife?

While I agree that they did make it pretty obvious it was husband-related, I really felt the film could have used a LITTLE background on her.
As she was, she came across as cartoonish.


I'd say this cloud is Cumulo Nimbus.
Didn't he discover America?
Penfold, shush.

Re: What Was up with the Colonel's Wife?

It wasn't at all cartoonish. The vast majority of spousal abuse is psychological, not physical. She was living with this domineering military man who wouldn't let anyone even lock their own doors. It was obvious she had no say in anything, even to Ricky.

Re: What Was up with the Colonel's Wife?

I'm not doubting the abuse.

I just thought the way she was portrayed as this near-zombie who said little except "I'm sorry." or "Hello." for the entire film was excessive. How could even Colonel Fitts stand that?!

She could have left him, and she at least should have taken her son away from that maniac.
I'd never let my husband beat my child like that, she should have broken a bat across his head.




I'd say this cloud is Cumulo Nimbus.
Didn't he discover America?
Penfold, shush.

Re: What Was up with the Colonel's Wife?

The mom was incidental to the plot and not a main character, so there was no need to show her being beaten for us to get the basic idea that she had been abused. Frank had no problem abusing his son Ricky, so it's only natural he'd also been abusing the mother at some point as well, as his temper was obviously leading to physical aggression. Men who abuse their children tend to also abuse their spouses. That and probably a combination of medication or something led her to a zombie like state.

Re: What Was up with the Colonel's Wife?

i figure it was early dementia, probably as a result of being beaten on a regular... i have a friend who used to get beat and she says its hard for her to remember certain things, and some things (from our high school days, eg) she cannot recall at all....
being beaten, depressed, anti-depression pills, pills in general, who knows... the point came across though, there is something obviously wrong with the mother, and her zombie-like state most likely is a direct result of living with the father....

It's mercy, compassion and forgiveness I lack. Not rationality...

Re: What Was up with the Colonel's Wife?

I would say she was heavily medicated for clinical depression. There's no evidence that she was being abused.

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Re: What Was up with the Colonel's Wife?

In the trivia section, this is listed in reference to the actress who plays the Colonel's wife:

'Sam Mendes gave Allison Janney a book of paintings by Edvard Munch. He told her, "Your character is in there somewhere."'

Probably the most widely known painting by Munch is of the man screaming. I think this represents her character well. It's up to personal interpretation but I think her character was very lucid compared to everyone else in the film, and she used Zoloft and other psych drugs to numb and distance herself from it all. I don't think she has dementia, I think she's very aware. It's just painful so she's deliberately self-medicated and absolved herself from the reality.

Re: What Was up with the Colonel's Wife?

No offense but, but I can't believe some posts here are attributing it to alzeheimer's.

I agree w/ the other posts that say she was clearly just suffering from a dysfunctional family: closeted husband who is consequently repressed, violent (towards the son at least), and angry. If you lived in an unhealthy environment lke that, you'd probably succumb in some way too!

Also, I agree: maybe she was on medication, particularly anti-depressants. And speaking of, obviously depression was probably a likely condition she suffered from, from all of the above mentioned factors.

Lastly, I agree w/ the post that we didn't need to see "more" of her situation. The fact that we all gleaned this much and can discuss it proves it was enough! Also: we didn't need to know if her husband physically abused her, and he didn't have to—his silence and lack of genuine love towards her was enough abuse. And just because he physically abused Ricky doesn't mean he would do that to her as well. If anything, her dynamic as being his WIFE probably kept him at bay since he knew he was living a lie by marrying someone he wasn't even attracted to, you know? Just my speculation, that he probably didn't even TOUCH her in any way, shape or form for that reason.

Re: What Was up with the Colonel's Wife?

I was always under the impression that the Mrs Fitts was a abused/battered wife. The movie makes it very clear that Colonel Fitts easily flies into a violent rage at his own son over insignificant things, hence there is no reason not to believe he wouldn't also do the same to his wife (which is very typical in an abusive family situation).

I was in an abusive marriage for six years, and ironically this film came out during that time. So I found it very easy to relate to the wife character. When a person is stuck in an abusive relationship, it is like you become an empty shell of the person you used to be before. The abuser drains all of the life and the spirit out of you until there is nothing of you left. They want to control you right down to the very thoughts and feelings running through your head... aka brainwashing. The wife character didn't have dementia. Being subjected to constant abuse (whether it is emotional, physical, verbal, etc) causes severe depression which can significantly impact your cognition and memory. It is like you are so mentally wrapped up in reacting to and surviving the abusive relationship that you have a really hard time thinking clearly about anything, or relating to things in the outside world. Many psychiatric drugs also have a numbing effect on a person's emotions, as well as causing a doped-up feeling which in turn impacts memory.

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Re: What Was up with the Colonel's Wife?

Exactly right, and are we to believe that a father who would do drug experiments [Zoloft implied] on his own son worse than MK Ultra would not also have his wife on it.

Plus she is shown as a "mail order bride" he picked up in some Asian $hole so if divorced she has no option [in America] but to go back to the jungle.

so she sits it out

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Re: What Was up with the Colonel's Wife?

^ So sorry to hear, and I agree w/ everything you said about abuse.

Re: What Was up with the Colonel's Wife?

What do you think?
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