I was thirteen years old when I read “Atlas Shrugged”. It was an adult book and I thought I was all that because I understood it. It was the same year I read “Catch 22”. I remember trying to read “Jaws” when I was eight and not getting it. But now at thirteen it was all coming together. You know that weird transition when you begin to “understand” the adult world? I was intrigued with “Shrugged” but not because of its politics. Even at thirteen, I new Rand’s philosophy was bullshit. In fact she dedicates an entire chapter to her social political ideals and I could only get through a few pages before I skipped the entire chapter, the chapter when her ideal man, John Galt, spits out Rand’s philosophy.
Anyway, it was the sexual exploits of her heroine, Dagny Taggart, that I found intriguing. Not only was Taggart (Rand) searching for the ideal man, she also seemed to be searching for the ultimate fuck. Rand is obsessed with the genius of men that can build big things like skyscrapers and railroads and rockets and shit. I mean, how fucking Freudian can you get? Although I’m offended by her philosophy, her journey as an artist is interesting. She seemed to do the same shit her male contemporaries did when it came to her art. She would do just about anything to get the art accomplished. She came up with a philosophy that rationalized her eccentric behavior in order to get what she wanted, which was to get laid and to do her art. That’s the real philosophy of Rand. “How do I get some cock?” and “How do I finish my book?” What she understood is that she could not accomplish one without having the other.
“The Passion of Ayn Rand” is based on a book by one of Rand’s disciples, Barbara Branden. Rand is played here by the remarkable Helen Mirren, and as usual her performance is spot on. Barbara (Julie Delpy) and Nathaniel (Eric Stoltz) are two young admirers of Rand’s who take a journey to meet their idol. They’re surprised when Rand takes them under her wing. Eventually Rand and Nathaniel, twenty-five years her junior , begin to have an affair, but it’s not a secret one. In fact Rand and Nathanial ask for their respective spouses permission to fuck each other, three times a week. Both Barbara and Frank O’Connor (Peter Fonda) agree to the bullshit scenario. According to Rand’s philosophy, this fuck-fest was all based on logic. Nathaniel is her intellectual equal, therefore it was only logical that she should allow him to throw a hump into her a few times a week, without Barbara or Frank getting all bent out of shape about it. Get it? Eventually Rand has major falling out with her disciples, when she discovers (at 60 years old) that Nathaniel (at 35) isn’t attracted to her anymore and has met a younger woman. Somehow Nathaniel not wanting to have sex with a sixty-plus year old hag didn’t seem logical to her.
“The Passion of Ayn Rand” suffers from the same affliction most bio-pics suffer from, and that is, if the viewer doesn’t already know much about the central character, they won’t come out learning much about them in the end, or have any frame of reference on why certain transitions are happening or why they should care about them. But the performances are good, and the main theme of Rand’s artistic travails, the use of sex as an artistic aphrodisiac, and the hypocrisy of her “logic” is captured well. Rand was not an attractive woman, which makes her sexual prowess even that more amazing. She used her superior intellect to convince dudes like Nathanial and Frank to cough up the goods. In other words, Rand was a pimp. A true pimp controls a ho with the mind, not the fists.