The movie I have chosen for analysis is Barefoot. This movie was released in 2014 and is a light hearted romantic comedy. It is the story of a girl who is misdiagnosed as schizophrenic and accused for the murder of her mother. The plot revolves around her and a man who accidentally runs into her and tries to help her prove her innocence and have her fit into a new life where she is not dependent on her mother anymore.
The characters that I have chosen for psychological analysis from this movie are the two protagonists, Jay Wheeler and Daisy Kensington. The third character will be the lead actor’s father, Mr. Wheeler. Here I will discuss how the theories of different psychological theorists apply to these three characters.
The movie starts with showing the life of Jay. He is a spoiled brat even though he doesn’t live with his parents anymore. He wakes up and plays golf, gambles his money on horse racing and then goes drinking in a bar where he has a fight. He is shown that because of his disorderly conduct he is on probation and is supposed to perform community service in a mental hospital as a janitor. This is where he meets Daisy.
Even though he is shown to live a lavish lifestyle, he is actually broke and owes the local mafia a lot of money. The movie shows him as a smart ass, who has a witty answer for everything but whenever he is with Daisy he deals with her accordingly. His character is actually a very good portrayal of Alfred Adler’s attempts towards superiority complex.
Jay is not liked by his parents because he doesn’t have a good job. His father considers him useless and this is exactly why he doesn’t live with his family and doesn’t wanna go to his brother’s wedding. He is scared inside that everyone there will judge him that he couldn’t be rich like father and brother.
He hides his inferiority complex by passing snide remarks at people who think they are better than him. He hides himself in a shell of lavish activities even though he can barely afford to do those activities. He considers himself to be part of the wealthy family he comes from even though they don’t consider him that.
He shows compassion towards the mental patients in the hospital he works in. His way of showing love is different than what society. He would rather be the delinquent who brings mental patients alcohol and porn magazine so they can have a break from their hard lives, instead of helping them get up and change in the morning. In his mind, what he does is right because the people he’s doing it for like him for what he does. He wants to be their secret friend who helps them feel normal. He strives for superiority by doing things for people who are inferior to him in a way.
He strives for superiority and over compensates in front of his father by lying about things he hasn’t achieved in his life just so his father would accept him. Another thing about him is his unconditional acceptance for people who like him. Half his friends are strippers and mental patients but he loves them without any restrictions because they like him. He holds them to high regards. His need for social approval is shown here. His brother and father on the other hand find mistakes in him so he despises them. He is shown to have extremities in his relationships. He sees people in black and white, kinda like what a person with borderline personality disorder would do. The people in his life are either perfect or full of flaws. Even when Daisy tells him she killed her mother, he still accept and loves her but when his father asks a question about Daisy when she’s getting a panic attack, he lashes out on him and leaves the premises.
In the start of the movie Daisy is assumed to be schizophrenic because she told people she hears voices and killed her mother. This assumption is made because Daisy does not know how to communicate herself properly which is because she spent her entire life in her house and was always socially deprived. Her mother never let her leave the house and she was home schooled. She lacks the proper social skills of fitting in the society but she manages that well.
Her character is very childish and lives in her own world where nothing can go wrong and people don’t lie. She uses Freud’s defense mechanism severly. She is always in denial every time someone tries to do something bad to her. She refuses to believe it and assumes their actions to be something else instead of what they actually were.
For instance, when Jay takes Daisy to a strip club, a guy asks her to give him a hand job and she feels happy instead being offended and comprehends that man’s sentence as ‘I’ve never had a job before. That man was so nice.’ Here her social deprivation and denial are at work to make her better about herself. She always looks for compliments from Jay who is actually just using her to get money from his parents but she plays along with him.
She also uses repression as another defense mechanism whenever the death of her mother is brought up. She believes there is a dark side to her who actually killed her own mother even though that isn’t what happened. She does not have a sense of identity. According Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, she only has basic needs fulfilled and she doesn’t really know how to move forward to the second step and have relationships and deal with people. Most social situations give her a panic attack and Jay has to save her. She likes being the damsel in distress.
She longs for attachment and every time Jay does something nice for her, she feels special. This turns around though when she finds out that he lied to her. She turns to reckless behavior by driving a van into a light pole while having Jay run around after her, apologizing that he wasn’t lying. Near the end of the movie when Jay tries to find out how she killed her mother it is revealed that her guilt had enveloped her so much that she assumed herself to be the killer even though the only thing she did was not go to her mother when she was screaming in pain and calling for her.
Her mother died of natural reasons but since she wasn’t there for her mother she believed she killed her mother. Her mother was schizophrenic, and she was the one who used to hear voices, not Daisy. She was only socially deprived. Jay tries to tell this to her psychiatrist and help remove the criminal charges from her.
Even though he has a very small role in the movie and is mostly heard only on the phone while talking to Jay, those scenes are enough to show the kind of personality Mr. Wheeler has. He is a narcissist who believes his son would become nothing good in his life because he chose a path different than his father. For him, social acclaim is everything. He does this by buying the most expensive condo van in the entire country which only has two models available. The president owns the first one and Mr. Wheeler own the second one. This is a huge achievement for him.
When Jay talks to him about coming to his brother’s wedding, Mr. Wheeler mocks him for having a girlfriend by asking ‘does she take her clothes off for a living?’ which clearly shows that he believes Jay would never live up to his expectations. At his son’s wedding when he finally meets Daisy he starts probing into her with difficult questions, trying to find a flaw in her or Jay’s relationship just so he can prove Jay wrong and humiliate him.
According to David McClelland’s theory Mr. Wheeler has a need for power and it is personal power. Need for personal power disregards other people’s needs and focuses on self. This need is what makes Mr. Wheeler a selfish and egoistic person who keeps looking for other people’s flaws to make himself look better or feel better.
In other words, he pushes other people down to get ahead. His personality is probably the reason Jay has an inferiority complex.
Sometimes parents don’t understand the effect their behavior and words can have on their children. It can be said that Jay gets his compassion from his father but his inferiority complex because of his father. Throughout the movie his father refuses to accept Jay for who he is and how he wants to be better in his own. Even near the end when his father bails him out of the jail, Jay chooses to go with Daisy instead of staying with him because as soon as he is released his father starts taunting him and Jay has to block him out to pay attention to the person who actually adores him instead of the person who keeps finding flaws in him.