“I felt like an animal, and animals don’t know sin, do they?”
― Jess C. Scott
CHRISTINA is perpetually both adult and child, innocent and nefarious, matured beyond her years after a lifetime spent trading sex and love for protection. She craves it and takes it where she can find it – initially, from her father (a heroin addict), who is also her lover and pimp. He's the only family she’s ever known, and when he decides to get clean and send her away, she smothers him with a pillow. She’s now free to look for love in other places. She finds that “love” in Lynn and Joe, a wealthy Manhattan couple she meets by chance.
Desperate to round out their perfect existence with a child of their own, Joe and Lynn are not without their share of demons, yet still offer Christina everything she’s ever dreamed of. For Lynn, who recently recovered from cancer, only to have a string of imagined pregnancies – all ending in ‘miscarriage’ – Christina’s the beautiful, much desired daughter. For Joe, she’s the answer to a problem that has plagued his relationship for years: Lynn’s illnesses, both physical and mental, have left her terrified of any real intimacy, even as she craves a baby in her belly. With Christina as part of the family, their relationship is revitalized.
But for all their longing, Christina has never had parents whose affection was free of sexual desire. Lynn's obsession with motherhood has never been tested and Joe can never forget how he found Christina: turning tricks on the street. His forbidden attraction to his adopted daughter clashes with his commitment to Lynn. He owes his wife both emotional stability and financial security, but Christina brings a promise of new beginnings and infinite possibilities. She is the future that can be shaped to his liking.
Christina struggles to find her place in a family that’s held together by mutually advantageous co-dependence. What she wants and expects is simple -- unconditional love. But she only knows one way to get it – using her body to stir the couple’s passions. Lynn and Joe are appalled and dismayed by this turn of events. Yet Christina’s naive attempts at seduction are not entirely in vain: parental affection and sexual desire begin to merge. It soon becomes clear that Christina is in absolute awe of Lynn. Being her daughter means trying to merge with her completely. When Lynn resists, Christina quickly becomes unstable and explosive; she will do whatever it takes to stay the center of Lynn’s attention, including killing the family cat.
When the perfect illusion is shattered, Lynn turns to more desperate measures to see her dream made reality. She encourages Joe’s lust, and soon, Christina becomes pregnant, elevating her role in the family from that of adoptive daughter to surrogate mother.
For a while, the family is living the forbidden dream. Joe is the first to come to his senses. Resentful of his wife’s role in Christina’s pregnancy and threatened by the bond that has developed between the two women, he warns Lynn that Christina is dangerous and questions whether he really is the father of the child. The seed of doubt falls on fruitful soil: Lynn also has been having second thoughts of her own. Is she really ready to become a mother under such peculiar circumstances? She longs for the return of normality. As fate would have it, the curse of miscarriage is once again fulfilled – this time a welcomed solution – and Christina is expelled from the family.
Christina’s life comes full circle once more. Rejected, she comes back to seek revenge or unequivocal love she was promised. A final confrontation between ‘mother’ and ‘daughter’ explodes into tragedy. As the film closes, we’re left questioning his motives: Just how much of a role did Joe have in bringing this marvelous and uncanny dream to its final end?
Set in a society where child sexual abuse is at once the biggest taboo, the terrifying reality, and the most lucrative enterprise, this film is a wake up call for all of us.