In the action thriller The Long Kiss Goodnight, Geena Davis plays an amnesiac who, at the start of the movie has no memory of her previous life as a spy.

Her character, Samantha Caine, recovers her previous memories of being the Spy Charly Baltimore with the help of sleazy private detective Mitch Hennessy. When she does she tries to erase her memories as a domesticated mother in several ways. When she has to recover a key from her daughter she is momentarily tempted by the possibility of killing her daughter (she sights her with a sniper rifle before being interrupted).

A few scenes later, after Timothy (one of the bad guys) has kidnapped the daughter she changes attitude and tries to rescue her. The transition in attitude is sudden (compare, for example, to how Sarah Connor changes from a killing machine into a mother in Terminator 2 where the changes is specifically foreshadowed and clearly triggered by specific events).

What triggers the change in Charly? Why does Samantha/Charly move so quickly from trying to erase her recent past to embracing it?

1 Answer 1


Charly is fighting with herself internally.

On one hand she's this kickass spy/assassin and then she has this other life where she has a husband and child.

Shane Black's script is full of directions and indications of the internal process going on.

For instance, the supposed being...

momentarily tempted by the possibility of killing her daughter (she sights her with a sniper rifle before being interrupted).

The script makes it clear that this isn't what you think it is...

Charly chews her lip. Unlimbers the MP-5. Hefts the wicked-looking thing. Not to fire it... but to use the SCOPE. Adjusts focus. Practiced movements. Deft. Sure. Sights down the weapon. Scans though the gunsights...

[flashback] Hal's CHRISTMAS PAGEANT. There's Hal. Cast in spectral GREEN. Laughing and serving breakfast. On the church lawn, a NATIVITY scene. Teenage girls as the wise men. Choir of children, singing... CAITLIN among them.

Charly is sweating. She lowers the scope. Squeezes her eyes shut. Something in her, threatening to WRENCH LOOSE...

Now with any war/battle there is ebb and flow, one side of Charly is winning at any one time...sometimes it's the spy, sometimes it's the mom.

The only way this internal civil war can end is when both sides come together as a whole.

In addition, even as a spy/assassin, there were 'rules'...once Cailtin has been taken Charly responds to Timothy...

You're dead, motherfucker. We don't involve families. It's not the way it's done, we don't take families.

  • It is interesting that the impression given by the scene with the sniper rifle isn't what the script intended. It feels more like the continuity of the torn family photo and Charly's attempt to seduce Hennessy.
    – matt_black
    Commented Feb 11, 2017 at 18:00

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