The Contender
User Comments: Director Rod Lurie Responds

NOTE: Comments contain spoilers.

Wednesday, November 1, 2000

Dear Carlo-

This is Rod Lurie, the director of The Contender. Just wanted to thank you for your mostly kind words about the film. Liked your take on the ending and agree with everything but the notion that she should indeed have done this act. I wanted to display the nobility in "taking the fall" for something she did not do. This is not so much a film about past sexuality as it is about how the nobility of standing by your principles can destroy you... which is what makes great people.


Dear Rod,

And thank you for your kind words about my review! I'm sorry that I could not say better things about the ending, but I tried to do my best to explain the reasons for my impressions, which is why I found it impossible to do a review without spoilers. I try to avoid just making flat statements like "such-and-such doesn't work." On the whole, though, I really enjoyed your film and hope that came out in the review.

I intentionally posed many of my criticisms about the alleged sexual act and how she handled it as questions because I meant them to be speculative, thinking about other directions the story could have gone. I do stand by the idea that your story might have been even more challenging if Hanson had done that thing, because I think audiences would still have found her to be noble by the end. However, I do see why you believe that may not have been thematically on point.

Forgive me, but I can't help asking this... does the fact that you liked my take on the ending imply that you would like to have handled it a little differently... that some choices had to be made during the creative process as the result of negotiations with producers, studio execs, etc.? If so, what would you have done?

I also enjoyed Deterrence quite a bit, and have a question about that film, too. Did you intend to make a clear statement about the hard but necessary choices that a President must sometimes make, or were you going for a more ambiguous finale, as I suggested in my review of The Contender? I saw the end as somewhat ambiguous (which I liked), whereas one of our other AboutFilm writers saw your movie as stating a clear opinion–one that he disagreed with.

Thanks again for your e-mail, and I look forward to your next film.


In answer to your two questions: No, no studio forced an ending on me at all. The film was made independently and sold as a completed film to Dreamworks. I like my ending, but also enjoy the debate that your review raises.

With Deterrence I wanted to show how such an unassuming man could turn into a fascist. Sadly, quite a few people felt that I had made a film that was advocating nuclear warfare.

Keep up the good reviews. I'll keep reading them.



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