Carolyn Burnham, like her husband, is constantly on the search for something more. In Carolyn’s case, it is utter perfection and blinding success. From Carolyn’s impeccable rose garden to her solo real-estate business, good isn’t good enough. We see this when Carolyn is dressed in a matching gardening outfit and is investigating a rose from her garden. Here we see this lust for perfection. Despite the fact that she grows beautiful roses and receives complements from her neighbors about them, they aren’t quite perfect. She is scrutinizing the rose, trying to find every last flaw in appearance and form.
This quest for perfection continues throughout the film. Everything was under Carolyn’s control until she faces a new, stern opposition; Lester and his journey for happiness. Lester’s new lifestyle begins to corrupt everything Carolyn has worked towards to create such a perfect self image. The two battle head to head, trying to oppose one another’s next move. However, Lester’s care-free attitude overpowers Carolyn’s controlling nature which makes her extremely unhappy.
This marital warfare continues until Carolyn reaches breaking point after her affair with another man fails to make her happy. On the night of Lester’s death, Carolyn speeds home in the rain with a mad look and a handgun in the glove box. She storms into the house with gun in hand to kill the source of her struggles; only to find that he has already been shot dead. Carolyn quickly finds that with her marriage problems being a motive to kill and her prints on a gun she could be charged with murder. Finally, Carolyn is not able to be perfect and control every aspect of her life. Perhaps Carolyn needed to realise that instead of chasing perfection and success, she should have been chasing happiness like her late husband, Lester.
The director wanted to show us this change in character for a very good purpose. Carolyn’s quest for unattainable perfection shows the audience that life should not be about pursuing absolute perfection but should be a journey in search of what truly makes us happy in life. Because lets face it, we aren’t perfect and never will be, so why spend your whole life trying to be? The director wanted to push the audience to take control of their lives and be content and happy with what we have before it’s too late to do so. This message is especially relevant in today’s society where we see more and more young adults forcing themselves into tertiary education to get degrees they don’t want and getting into jobs they don’t enjoy.