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i just saw this film at the Austin film festival. I had no idea what to
expect and i was delighted with the results. Mathew Perry delivers a
fantastic understated performance. I really wasn't a fan of his and
when I heard he was in it, truthfully i wanted to see it less. But i've
changes my tune completely, l'm a definite fan now, he sunk his teeth
into this role and really let go of his usual bag of comedic tricks.
The writer/director knows what he is doing. He injected just enough, just just enough comedy into the movie to make the disturbing and hard to handle subject matter palatable. I really found the movie a delight and the the whole theatre was laughing in agreement with me. Go see it, its really something!
I picked this up on a whim after having only seen a brief trailer for
it on another movie. I am SO glad I did. As one of the other
commentators pointed out, depersonalization disorder is a real problem
for some people. Unlike Perry's character, I smoked weed everyday for a
little over two years before it suddenly flipped a 180 on me and threw
me into a panic/anxiety disorder coupled with what I was calling
dissociation (not feeling right in your own skin, as they say in the
movie, is spot-on). I felt "out of pocket" for over two years after my
incident and never really went completely back to normal. I eventually
managed to get over the chronic anxiety (after six months on Lexapro
and about a year spent seeing a psychologist). Anyway, sorry to go on
about myself, but it is just such a relief to see this on film! I'm
even a writer as well (fiction not screenplays), but this is uncanny.
My doctor also told me there was nothing physically wrong with me, just
like in the film. I had an MRI and multiple other tests which all
yielded nothing, like in the film. I had read some blog entries of
people experiencing this, but my doctor had no idea what was wrong with
me and my shrink had never really heard of it either. I felt just as
alone and helpless as Perry's character does.
This movie did an amazing job of showing the effects of this little-known disorder. That whole part about looking at your hand or an object and not feeling like it's actually there, even though you can physically feel it -- completely true. I wanted to crawl out of my skin at times, and it is just so cathartic to see this film now, years after the fact. Perry is brilliant in this role and didn't even slip into Chandler-esquire tropes that have somewhat become his trademark (although, unfortunately, he will always be compared to that character). The dialog is actually quite good and the romanticism in this film isn't overbearing and contrived like so many other rom-comedies. In fact, I normally avoid rom-comedy for that very reason. Numb avoids the pitfalls and cuts right to the uncontrived truths. It doesn't rely on cuteness or sentimentality and the wittiness shines. Of course it's not perfection, but I couldn't have asked for more. Thank you Harris Goldberg. You did well.
Just saw "Numb" tonight at the Ojai Film Festival. The whole audience
laughed and stayed "in" the movie the entire time. There was not a
break in continuity or a weak moment in the film.
Now there is stillness and quiet and depth at times which some might interpret as "slow moving" but it is real. And the depth allows for the audience to slow down enough to really see the motivation in a character's eyes.
It is an uncomfortable film at times. You want the main character to "snap out of it" or "do the right thing" at moments but he is real. You want it all sewn up at times it isn't. But that is what makes for good writing and good films to me-- when you actually go within the movie and want to motivate the characters. Just remember that when you see Steenburgen's character in the restaurant scene!
This film works well to show a form of mental illness that isn't overt and is so hard, so subtle to understand. It also is delightful because it is an autobiographical account of much of what the writer/director himself faced. I loved that the main character keeps going back to how/if he caused this to happen. I also like that Hudson (Perry's Character) keeps chasing the cure in spite of dealing with so many doctors who cannot help or therapists who are unprofessional. I think that's the story of so many who deal with personality disorders.
The quiet Perry assumes in this role is much like the odd sadness of Murray in "Broken Flowers" and the madness of the psychologists and psychiatrists involved reminded me a touch of "Running with Sissors".
I hope this film gets good distribution because so many will benefit from seeing it. I look forward to seeing how Matthew Perry's career is changed as he can obviously play a very serious leading role with much depth. He is no longer just a "friend".
JeffAbu Blog Numb is, in reality (or unreality) a wake up call There are movies that, in time, garner a cult following, for reasons most people can't fathom, or don't care too. This is likely to happen with Harris Goldberg's "Numb." The scant reviews emerging from the Tribeca Film Festival thus far have pointed out that the script is pretty much autobiographical, based on Harris Goldberg's own experience with something called Depersonalization, triggered by pot. Sounds like a pretty extreme and rare reaction to weed, and a pretty weak premise on which to base an entire movie, right? No. Just the opposite. Depersonalization Disorder is something quite real, and a condition that, incredibly, affects more people than either schizophrenia or bi-polar disorders. Yet few people, even relatively few health professionals have ever heard of it. It can be triggered by various forms of stess or trauma, as well as things like LSD and marijuana. The confusion, frustration and inability to deal with "normal" life that often marks DPD is portrayed beautifully by Matthew Perry, whose eyes, at times reveal the void left behind by a soul that has simply disappeared. Lack of affect, "numbness" is just one of many symptoms of depersonalization, but it is likely the one most movie viewers can relate to, and perhaps, the simplest to portray. In this sense, Harris Goldberg has wisely avoided extensive diving into the fearfully negative and hopeless waters of DPD. Instead, he gives us important glimpses into the overall angst of the condition as well as the sufferer's desperate efforts to resume a "normal" life. And he manages to do this within a comedic context. DPD is NOT depression, you see, nor is it humorless. People with the condition are often highly intelligent, and more often than not, they can exhibit extreme insight and a biting wit, simply because their ego, or lack thereof, never stands in the way. Ultimately, this film marks the very first mention of Depersonalization Disorder on the big screen. It is the first depiction of someone who has it. On top of it, Goldberg has generously shown Perry reading the only authoritative book on the condition "Feeling Unreal" right in the middle of the film. Creating this film, which is funny and highly entertaining by any standard, marks a singlar act of courage on the part of the writer/director. According to Hollywood: Everyone knows that pot is always harmless, right? Wrong. According to the medical profession: Depersonalization is just a symptom of some other condition, right. Wrong again. Goldberg has, if nothing else, boldly stated these truths by tickling the funnybone rather than the temporal lobe. Literally millions of people already know these truths, and therein lies the film's audience, for a long long time. posted on Sunday, May 13, 2007 11:34 PM by JeffAbu
Since the 'friends' era (someone was bound to bring it up), Perry's
films have always shared the typical romance/comedy element, although I
must nuance by saying the emphasis tended to differ, but now it seems
that Matt has chosen a different path, trying to prove himself as a
serious actor in drama's, although he hasn't fully abjured comedy (not
that he should, as long as it remains tasteful). The recent 'The Ron
Clark Story' proved to be a big hit in the rose and 'Numb' was the next
logical step, providing him with a more challenging and diverse role
even namely a screenwriter having to deal with a peculiar form of
Judging the authenticity of his performance is very hard, seeing that I, like most people, have never heard of the condition in question. I do believe most reviews coming from people suffering from it or having suffered from it in the past were predominantly positive. Perry's natural charm and his impression of being clumsy have to be suppressed, and having dealt with depression in real life the actor can dig into his own experience to come up with a real life character, and he does so with furore, wisely underplaying and steering away from his typical comedy style, meanwhile the film still has a lot of off beat comedy moments to lighten the material at hand a bit, certainly a welcome comical relief.
The low-key tone of the film might make it difficult for some people to access, but I would still recommend it to most people.
The movie is absolutely superb, it has everything, its fun to watch
Mathew Perry again and he has done a tremendous job, Goldberg, what can
I say about him, he's fantastic as an writer & director & I think its
his own story.
The movie is about a guy named Hudson who has depersonalized disorder & how he comes face to face to face his fear lolz, its funny & at the same time has a strong message in it.
Mathew Perry has done a superb job, I think he deserves an award for this movie, its been a treat to watch him on big screen after his successful series of friends.
Go & watch this movie, its worth it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Numb" is a film I was afraid to watch. As an anxiety/depersonalisation
sufferer myself, I was frightened of two things. Either that the film
would portray the symptoms of this hellish condition inaccurately,
giving off a message that was contrived or 'Hollywoodised', or that it
would be so accurate that I would cry my heart out.
Thankfully, I cried my heart out. Matthew Perry is absolutely perfect for the role, and I give credit to the director who I learnt suffered from the illness himself. I feel that, through Perry, he has displayed the epitome of Depersonalisation disorder, the effect it has on the individual and the effect that it has on the people in the individual's life.
Through Perry's actions, such as looking at his hand as though it were something alien and far away with a blank expression in his eyes (something that I often did), as well as the choice of music, and the script (the script is FANTASTIC), it brought a smile to my face at the humour of a humourless mental condition and gave me humour to my own experience of it.
However, the one thing that I was disappointed with was the ending. The fact that Perry does not recover made me feel very sad for his character, and for all other Depersonalisation suffers - because I am no longer a depersonalisation sufferer. The film, while funny, made the condition seem life threatening, or forever. It is not. I suffered with it for two years, and then I got a self help book to read and eventually it went away.
To all you depersonalisation sufferers that watched this film, enjoyed it but felt despair at the message that you can never get better, don't worry. Depersonalisation does not seem to get better through medication or therapy as I discovered in my experience and other's experiences. I believe it needs acceptance, which is mentioned in the film, but I only wished that through Perry's character's acceptance it was shown that he got better.
The difficult but only effective way to get rid of DP is what the message of the film, in a small way I feel, is trying to say, and what echoes in things I have read about DP - what you must not do is try and force normal feelings. You must wait for normal feelings to return of their own accord, which in time, they will. In their efforts not to feel the way DP suffers do they question why they feel the way they do, day in and day out, even though it is nothing to do with psychosis or any other mental illness, but to do with anxiety or the repercussions of a drug experience. They burden themselves with more thoughts and more pressure on their minds which only increases their anxiety and causes further symptoms of DP. I honestly don't mean to sound like some kind of patronising councellor because I get what its like, as shown in the film, to talk to people who have absolutely no understanding and tell people to 'pull themselves together', but I'm not talking about people pulling themselves together. I'm talking about people surrendering themselves to the condition and letting it be there without questioning what it is as its nothing but another offshoot symptom of anxiety disorder. I know this is a film review, but as crazy as it sounds, acceptance of my depersonalisation and almost finding it funny allowed me to get better. It's nothing to be frightened of because it doesn't last forever when you don't try to push it away but just live with it. As soon as you accept it and don't dwell on it with despair, you begin to recover. TRUST ME. I've recovered and I know many people who have recovered through time and acceptance as they followed the route to recovery like I did by not fearing it, not pushing it away and not what-iffing and self doubting all the time.
All in all 'Numb' is a beautiful, heartwarming film that gives DP sufferers an opportunity to laugh, yet I want them to know that despite the ending depersonalisation is absolutely possible to recover from, not through Matthew Perry's depressive attitude towards it within the film, but through acceptance and knowing that it is caused by nothing more than a tired mind fixated on its own anxious condition that causes a detachment from its surroundings and itself.
I have been rooting around for sometime now for a movie that would
speak to the inertia that has settled over me in various cycles during
the last decade or so. This would be a movie that would address the
issue of being a potentially gifted person, but who is stunned by the
oppressiveness of modern life: frightening economy, unpredictable jobs,
the no-rules relational chaos of post-modernism.
The last movie I saw that got to this was "Wonder Boys," about an insightful English professor who couldn't function because of being emotionally stunned. While it is flawed and at times, forcing itself too much on you, "Numb" is that great new movie that gets into the struggle for identity.
Matthew Perry does a convincing job as Hudson Milbank, a modern LA freelance writer, trying to find meaning and connection. The film cleverly dances in and out of his early life, showing his times with fittingly remote and narcissistic parents, especially a destructive mother who is played perfectly by Helen Shaver, a great Canadian actress who masterfully conjures cold, chipper, semi-ice-queen figures.
It also has a hysterical and realistically frightening bit about a highly credentialed psychiatrist, Dr. Cheryl Blaine, played ably by Mary Steenburgen, who has her own bout with borderline syndrome and sexaholic tendencies, which she can't seem to restrain from unleashing on Hudson, who seeks her help with his condition.
The funniest line of the movie comes when she chases him out of a restaurant in a predatory moment, asking him about his family. To which Hudson, in a mid-trot, grunts to Tom, his writer sidekick played by Kevin Pollack: "uh...run." You can't decide whether Dr. Blaine is funny or terrifying, maybe the scariest female character since Sharon Stone in "Basic Instinct."
There are so many familiar handles in this movie, I can't even remember them all. Besides the out-of-control, counter-transferring female therapist, let's see...there was
-- Spending most of your leisure life in bed being hooked on one brand of inanely topical TV, in this case, The Golf Channel. Many of us have our times escaping into with some kind of nerdy TV; mine is The Weather Channel, for my ex, it is The Fishing Channel, and an old roommate couldn't live without The Military Channel.
-- Trying an unending series of anti-depressants, thinking you will find one magic pill to fix you. Hudson becomes so much a regular at the HMO pharmacy, that we see the pharmacist playfully wishing him luck with his latest prescription.
-- Being up and out at 4 a.m., insisting this is the only time you really feel good about the world.
And there are many more moments I recognize in this movie that come from the benumbing, joyless periods that seem to settle in on us. without answers, at various times in the post-modern world.
What director Harris Goldberg does that is so helpful is he makes many of the trapped moments funny and he resists offering up a trite resolution. Hudson finds hope in certain things and soon abandons them, going on to his next illusory beacon. It is a waiting game until he finds the next bit of relief, kind of like real life.
Goldberg's 'Numb' tells an intense and funny 'tale' of a writer suffering from depersonalized disorder while facing other difficulties (his kleptomania, his dysfunctional family, his love). This is no disease-of-the-weak movie that preaches about a sickness because Goldberg adds plenty of humour that is dark, satirical, subtle, dry and adult while keeping us entertained from start to finish. He also keeps us involved in Hudson's life. I wonder how much of it is based on Goldberg's own experience. The dialogues are funny, witty and clever. Though the movie does sort of mock psychologists and psychiatrists (in a hilarious way) but the problems surrounding the disorder and the central character's anguish is well depicted and people will recognize them as almost everyone has felt depersonalized at least for one moment or another. Matthew Perry's excellence in comedy is already well known and here it was great to see him act on a more intense level. The actor can definitely do more than comedy (as was also evident in 'Birds Of America'). I think it is the first time I heard him say the 'F' word. His understated performance as Hudson draws sympathy from the viewer but also laughter during the lighter moments. Of the 'Friends' lead cast, only Perry along with Lisa Kudrow and Courteney Cox seem to have 'grown' as actors. Lynn Collins holds her own and has a good screen presence. Mary Steenburgen is laugh-out-loud hilarious as the steamy 50+ psychologist who hasn't done 'it' in seven years. Thus, 'Numb' was a fun and enlightening watch. Goldberg and Perry have done a superb job and this is one movie I definitely would be revisiting soon.
I recently viewed, "Numb" at the Palm Springs Film Festival. It was by far the best film there. Harris Goldberg's script and direction are seamless in this film. The story was laid out on film beautifully. Numb is extremely interesting and funny. If you like, Garden State, you will love this film. I was in Palm Springs representing another film in the film festival. (I'm a Composer) I never knew that Matthew Perry was that good of an actor. I always thought he was funny in friends, clever reaction more than serious acting. Well in "Numb" he really shows his range. Matthew Perry was spectacular in his role as Hudson the mentally de- personalized professional script writer. His love interest, I hate to say I don't recall her name, but she sucked up the screen and I fell in love with her instantly. When you work in this business you see a bunch of sub par films. So, when you see a film like, "Numb," your faith in film making is restored. Thank you Harris Goldberg and cast.
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