Currently browsing the "mental illness" tag.

Review: Eternal Beauty

Mental illness seems to be the zeitgeist in the film world right now. And fortunately it’s being explored in a wide range of genres. Paper Spiders looks at paranoid delusion through a mother-daughter/coming-of-age drama. Words on Bathroom Walls takes a YA view of a teen dealing with schizophrenia. And The Burnt Orange Heresy takes it into mystery-thriller territory. And now comes Eternal Beauty a dramedy about a woman living with paranoid schizophrenia. Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water, Maudie) plays Jane, a sometimes lovable odd-ball who lives on her own albeit with a host of voices in her head keeping her company. Her extremely dysfunctional family doesn’t really help her maintain any sense of sanity. But despite a number of bumps and detours in her road, she keeps a hopeful outlook (at least when she’s on her medication.) It’s a strange film and worth seeing especially because of Hawkins’s bravura performance.

Review: Waikiki

There aren’t many films directed by indigenous people. Their voices are largely missing from the cinematic world. But still it’s somewhat shocking that Waikiki which is premiering today at the urbanworld Film Festival is the first narrative feature written and directed by a Native Hawaiian filmmaker. Writer/director Christopher Kahunahana’s vision of the Honolulu beach neighborhood is a far cry from the usual fun in the sun take. His central character Kea (Danielle Zalopany) is a young woman struggling to keep her sanity as her world falls apart. She’s in an abusive relationship, living in her van, working three jobs, and her past is haunting her. Then she hits a homeless man with her car.

Review: Paper Spiders

I’ve always enjoyed the performances of Lili Taylor starting with Mystic Pizza. And reading her bio on IMDB probably explains why. One of her quotes reads, “I guess the characters I play may be at the more destructive edge of the spectrum, more damaged or whatever, but I find a lot of female roles uninteresting. I would rather play someone who’s fucked-up and deep than someone who’s one-dimensional and invisible. I would rather drive something and be crazy than be forgotten and nothing.” And her latest role is totally in that vein. In this mother-daughter, coming-of-age drama she plays Dawn, a woman with delusional disorder who’s convinced that the new next door neighbor is out to get her. Meanwhile her daughter Melanie (Stefania LaVie Owen) with whom she has a close and loving relationship is just trying to get through her senior year so she can head off to college. And as Dawn spirals out of control, Melanie tries to find a way to save her from herself despite her complete denial.

Quickie Review: Words on Bathroom Walls

Words on Bathroom Walls is the latest in a string of films adapted from popular novels – YA and otherwise. But as far as I can tell, it’s only being released in theaters at the moment, which makes it hard to find and even harder to break through as anything resembling a “must see” in the age of COVID-19. And that’s rather a shame, because the film explores a topic rarely seen on film and certainly not from this perspective. It tells the story of Adam (Charlie Plummer, All the Money in the World), a mostly typical teen who gets diagnosed with schizophrenia – and expelled – midway through his senior year of high school. He sometimes sees and hears people that aren’t there, which can lead to frightening psychotic breaks. Adam ends up getting accepted to a Catholic school on the condition he take his meds religiously. This prove difficult when the drugs interfere with his love of cooking (he dreams of going to culinary arts school) as well as his budding romance with Maya (Taylor Russell, Waves), the school’s smart, attractive, clever and industrious presumptive valedictorian. Adam tries to keep his mental illness a secret from Maya, and all his classmates, and ends up walking a very tight rope.

Love & Mercy

I will admit right up front that I was never a fan of The Beach Boys. So I put this film off and that was a mistake. While Brian Wilson may be the central character, Love & Mercy is much more than the story of a famous boy band. It’s a sweet redemptive love story wrapped in a harrowing tale of mental illness. It stars John Cusack and Paul Dano as Wilson at different key periods in his life. And both of them deserve high praise for their portrayals of the creative genius with enormous problems. Not being a fan of the music, I was surprised by how beautifully it was put together and ultimately how much I liked this film.

Welcome to Me

What happens when a mentally ill woman who is obsessed with Oprah wins the lottery? She buys her way onto television and her very own talk show, of course. In Welcome to Me, Kristin Wiig plays Alice Klieg. She lives her quirky little life in a California desert town and spends most of her time watching and memorizing Oprah shows (on VHS) and devouring infomercials. She is in court-mandated therapy, but has decided that she doesn’t need any meds because she can control her emotions through other means, or so she firmly believes. So when she suddenly comes into $86 million, she decides to live out her dream to have her own talk show and finds a struggling production company that is more than happy to take a huge chunk of her winnings. And what is the show about? It is all about her. And it’s called “Welcome to Me.”