Mannequin Monday – Amateur to the Point of Incompetence

A drug-addicted sex worker in London, bent on vengeance.  We cover our blank form this week with moving images. A Blake Lively action thriller. Strong performances and a box office bomb. Mannequin Monday.

And a playful story from my own pen. Not a bomb, I hope. Enjoy.

What I’m Reading/Watching

This week I want to talk about a film I watched on Amazon Prime:  The Rhythm Section.

The film is an action thriller, with a strong performance by Blake Lively. Jude Law and Sterling K. Brown round out the cast. The film was also  a box office bomb. The Rhythm Section is  not your usual thriller. We see the protagonist as an amateur assassin, amateur to the point of incompetence.  She struggles with her own feelings, her guilt, her anxiety, her desire for revenge, for redemption.

The film opens with Lively as a drug-using sex worker in London, fallen on hard times after losing her parents and two siblings in a plane crash three years earlier. She should have been on the plane too.  A journalist finds her. He has been funded by a man who lost his son on the same flight. The journalist discovers that the crash was no accident. Lively learns of the journalist’s research, discovers who was responsible for the crash, and sets out to avenge her family. To redeem herself.

Without revealing spoilers, I’ll say that Lively clumsily causes someone’s death, blunders her way through clandestine operative training, fails at her first few assignments. Critics thought the plot was weak. After reading countless thrillers, I can say some of Lively’s actions were quite implausible. An amateur who fails at several assignments, but fights her way out of every one of them. Who runs down the street, calling attention to herself, when she should blend into the crowd.

But that is the point of it all. A main character, an amateur, driven by revenge and redemption, carries off the impossible. Against all odds. The viewer feels her awkwardness. Visually she is gangly, clumsy, her body movements what you would expect of someone coming off drug abuse.  Again, amateur to the point of incompetence.

This is what I enjoyed in Lively’s performance. An unlikely protagonist, sucked into a journey of vengeance and redemption. A character we don’t often see in film, especially in thrillers. Refreshing.

What I’m Writing

Here’s a light piece, a bit of fun. Enjoy.

Ethan Does the Supermarket 

“Aw, ma. Not today.”

“Yes today. Mrs. Ferrera sprained her ankle and can’t drive to the market. She needs groceries.”

Ethan Page slurped his cold cereal. “I have plans with my friends.”

“She’s an old lady. How much food could she need. It won’t take you long…and I will make sure you get service credit for your church program.”

“Can I take the Jeep?”

“Yes. If you drive carefully.”

Ethan shrugged. 

“And don’t take your friends along in the Jeep.”


“Go on. I need you back in an hour. I have to take your sister to the gym.”

Ethan rang Mrs. Ferrera’s bell.

“Ethan, my ankle is bad today. I can’t drive. Here’s a list of items I need from the market.” 

He looked at the full-page list. “This is a lot of stuff. How will I find it all?”

“You’ll be fine. Thanks for doing this.”

Ethan wandered the supermarket aisles. Tomato sauce, low salt, 14 ounces. Two cans. Cream of mushroom soup, low sodium. Six pack of Coke. Two sweet onions. A fresh bagel.

He texted his mom. The list is huge. I can’t find anything.

She replied. Ask for Joe in the produce section.

He found Joe, wearing a soiled apron, laying out heads of lettuce.

“Okay, kid. Think of it this way. You know your U.S. geography, right? You got your east coast and your west coast. And you got all the states in-between.”

Ethan nodded.

“Most supermarkets are laid out the same way. On one end you got your west coast, where we’re standing right now – the produce, the dairy. Think green and fresh. On the other end,” Joe pointed down the store, ” is your east coast – the deli, the bakery. Bread and bagels. Desserts.”

Ethan smiled.

“And in the middle you got your meat counter. The midwest. And anything in a can or a box is in the middle.

“Got it?”

“I think so.”

“Good, kid. Now go shop and make your mother proud.”


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