The character of Wade Whitehouse in the movie Affliction is that of a police officer inNew Hampshiretown who is suffering from excessive emotional baggage with a painful tormented childhood and struggling in his middle-age with all his emotional relationships souring and breaking down. He has an aggressive and bitter attitude towards his ex-wife and is attempting mostly unsuccessfully to develop a meaningful relationship with his daughter who is intermittently exasperated or afraid of him. The two meaningful relations in his life remain with his younger brother and girlfriend.
‘…..who repeatedly edges towards insanity, and then pulls back, as if afraid of what he sees. Schrader’s film documents Wade’s short but convoluted journey from eccentricity to madness.’(NG D)
Whitehouse’s character at the very core appears to indicate intense self-destructive properties. After struggling to gain custody of his daughter he kidnaps but reacts savagely to her attitude of fear and resistance. After this he feels so intensely guilty that he sends his daughter back to her mother from whom he has taken her back in the first place.
‘Watching Nolte’s performance is like watching a rabid animal tear itself to pieces. The animal, suffering from intolerable dementia, must find some kind of relief. So, in an act of merciful suicide, it claws away at its own stomach until its intestines pour out onto the ground. It’s a form of self-destruction that, in a perverse way, is really a form of self-preservation. Like the animal, Wade is afflicted with something unspeakable. And it is inevitable that one day, he will have to destroy himself in an ultimate plea for peace.’
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