Absent Fathers in #PerfectSisters
The ‘absent father’ syndrome plagues many families in Western cultures today, due to abandonment and divorce. Girls learn many things from fathers: “a sense of self, security, and the comfort of healthy love.” Fatherless girls are more likely to have low self-esteem, “fewer marriages, fewer offspring, more divorces, and greater use of alcohol and drugs.” Many of these women become unwed mothers. Their economic situation is bleak, since many don’t finish high school.
When “Perfect Sisters” opens, Sandra (Abigail) and Beth (Georgie) are moving into a new apartment in a new city with their alcoholic mother Linda (Mira Sorvino). Later, seeking recourse against their mom’s bad decisions, the sisters visit their sober, financially stable father at a restaurant. I saw this film nearly 2 years ago, so I don’t remember the conversation. Yet I do remember asking myself why the sisters aren’t living with their father. Did a family court judge award full custody to Linda during divorce proceedings? When did she become an alcoholic? Why wasn’t the father given visitation rights? The film doesn’t answer these questions. If Sandra and Beth had been living with their father, tragedy (murder) could have been avoided. If nothing else, they wouldn’t have had to suffer economic instability and sexual assaults.
Sandra doesn’t seem to feel any emotional effects of the absent father syndrome, not even after she drowns her mother. Her post-murder partying is mostly a guilt trip. Beth is different, partly because of her mother’s instability and sexually abusive boyfriends. She smokes marijuana, becomes a Goth, and begins to date one – all acts of rebellion. Somewhat like her mother, Beth seeks safety in boyfriends, especially young men who are different from traditional society. Is this ‘looking for love in all the wrong places’? It’s certainly a path to heartbreak. At least Sandra and Beth perform well in school, something unusual for ‘fatherless’ young women.
Watch “Perfect Sisters” in theaters on April 11. Follow the film on Facebook and Twitter. Also see the links below for more information on the ‘absent father’ syndrome.