Yeah, I had a plan to watch it again while keeping what Otter said, and a few other things, in mind, but as it sometimes goes, I haven't quite gotten around to it yet.
"Remember that the first time she did this she didn't actually hover over his bed and smother him with love, she went downstairs to work on the wedding gown." - I want to keep this in mind, in particular. I want to see if it is all just about the power dynamic or if Alma not going to him at first was still in that mothering tone, but just as a form of punishment for all of his wrongdoings. Really, the two ideas don't have to be exclusive, as I suspect the Oedipal tone came to be after the power struggles had already begun. If I still sense that Oedipal tone, I want to see if it's during that scene and it's a punishment or if it first seems to occur during the first instance of her actually taking care of him. Like Otter (and I'm sure most folks), I do find it "icky", as they put it, but I can't help but feel that way about the film. Among a few smaller, more obvious things, it's just that scene where the "ghost" of the mother and Alma cross - it just seems like so much more than just a fever dream from the sickness.
Also, very good point here - "It's like how a significant number of very powerful and controlling people pay to have prostitutes dominate and even humiliate them."
Reynolds is one of those people that, for the most part, is surrounded by "Yes Men", or, in Reynold's case, "Yes Women". Your point made me realize that and really gives a lot of support to Otter's take.
You may be right, that the first time was punishment as a mother would punish a child. Well, as a criminal mother would punish her child 😁
I need to see it again. I was very distracted when I saw it last night. At first I didn't realise it was a movie that needs your full attention the way it does.
I'd missed the scene you mention when the ghost of the mother and Alma cross, and the mother vanishes, leaving Alma. It couldn't be much clearer, could it?
It is icky, all of it. These are not well people. But they are interesting characters.