Film / Human Nature

Human Nature is a 2001 comedy film directed by Michel Gondry (his first feature film) and written by Charlie Kaufman. The cast includes Tim Robbins, Patricia Arquette, Rhys Ifans, Miranda Otto, Rosie Perez, and Peter Dinklage.

The film is about a man raised as an ape, a woman who chose to live as one and a doctor on a quest to teach animals table manners. It had a limited release and only made a fraction of its budget at the box office.

This movie provides examples of:

  • All Psychology Is Freudian: Exaggerated. Nathan's therapy sessions lead his therapist to the most obvious, highly Freudian conclusions. Nathan commends the doctor's insight; the doctor is bewildered Nathan couldn't come to the same conclusions on his own.
  • Downer Ending: Nathan gets killed by Puff and is indefinitely trapped in some kind of purgatory. Lila takes the fall and goes to prison so that Puff can continue living freely in nature. And Puff...doesn't do that. He instead returns to civilization to have elope with Gabrielle, getting away with murder and not caring about what Lila did for him at all.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: Both Lila and Puff have no qualms about shedding their clothes and tramping around naked due to their extended lives in the woods.
  • Nude Nature Dance: Initially, when Lila is still covered in body hair, and reprised once she has shed it.
  • Oedipus Complex: Puff grows up in the lab calling Nathan "father" and Gabrielle "mother." He plots to murder the former and bed the latter.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Caught unawares in hr apartment, Gabrielle reveals that she is not truly French.
  • Pygmalion Plot: Nathan and Gabrille together train Puff into acting human; Gabrielle falls for him.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Nathan reasons that, "If I can teach animals table manners... I can teach humans table manners. Then I can make the world a better place."
  • Shameful Strip: Lila forces one on Puff, training him to return to the wild.
  • Spoof Aesop: Puff speaks to Congress about how civilization did not improve him. Played differently, this may have been the film's actual theme. But this scene immediately followed Lila, apropos of nothing, telling him "go testify before Congress on the waywardness of man!" and senators follow the speech by declaring, vaguely "we must pass some legislation on this matter."