Essay #3: Film Analysis
November 14, 2005
Film Analysis: As Good As It Gets
Tri-Star Pictures starring Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt, and Greg Kinnear released As Good As It Gets in 1997. It was produced and directed by James L. Brooks. The story and screenplay were written by Mark Andrus. The film is about a romance novelist named Melvin Udall, played by academy award winning actor Jack Nicholson, who suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder and how he is crippled by overpowering fear associated with this disorder. Helen Hunt plays the waitress from Brooklyn that serves Melvin every morning at his favorite restaurant in Manhattan. Greg Kinnear plays Melvin's gay neighbor who is unexpectedly hospitalized. As Good As It Gets accurately depicts the trials and tribulations a person diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder faces on a day-to-day basis.
Melvin Udall is a "classic" example of how a person lives with obsessive-compulsive disorder. In the film, Melvin wears gloves to protect his hands from germs and dirt. When he washes his hands, it is as if he were performing a ritual. He washes with extremely hot water and uses a bar of soap only once before throwing it away. Factually, OCD usually involves having both obsessions and compulsions, though a person with OCD may sometimes have only one or the other. People with OCD may worry excessively about dirt and germs and "be obsessed with the idea that they are contaminated or may contaminate others" ("What"). People with OCD typically try to make their obsessions go away by performing compulsions. Compulsions are acts the person performs over and over again, often according to certain `rules.' In fact, "people with an obsession about contamination may wash constantly to the point that their hands become raw and inflamed "("Obsessive"). Melvin deals with his obsession with dirt and germs by performing compulsions such as excessive washing and limiting his contact with other people, so the film is accurate in this respect.
Melvin has many other obsessions and compulsions that are realistic for a person with the disorder. For example, he has two large locks on his door that he religiously locks every time he enters his apartment. He locks them the same way and in the same order every day. Counting is one of Melvin's obsessions. He does things in even numbers. Touching is also one of Melvin's obsessions. He cannot stand to be touched for fear of getting someone else's germs. He will not step on a crack in the sidewalk nor will he use the utensils a restaurant provides. The same routine has to be followed every day down to the minute. For instance, Melvin eats at the same diner, orders the same food, sits at the same table, and requires that the same waitress serve him every day. He will go to extreme measures to make sure that nothing interrupts his routine. When...