Helen has it all: friends, an attentive second husband, a cheerful teen daughter, musical talent, and a university teaching job. Then, something's amiss: is her husband cheating, does she have a fatal disease, does her past haunt her? There's a quick hospitalization, a disclosure, a bond with one of her students, Mathilde, and a dark chasm that seems to be opening in front of her: can Helen do anything about the problem she won't discuss, or will it swallow her? Written by
From a purely clinical standpoint, a purist would likely find that there are number of stylized caricatures, stereotypical performances, and clichés even in this fictionalized family drama even though writer/director Sandra Nettleback undertook her own research into the terrible affliction of what she calls "suicidal depression," in what amounted to a ten year project. Inspired by an article written by a man with severe depression and the suicide of a personal friend of her's more than a decade ago, this movie still contains numerous overtures to the more mainstream viewpoint of mental illness. However, this somewhat long movie continues to build and reveal a depth toward mental illness and its complications leading toward a somewhat more traditional ending. There are some parallels to "Girl Interrupted" (1999), particularly with the relationship developed between the two women in that movie and this movie. The sound track in this movie is superb and really adds a special intimacy and richness to this movie along with nice musical tracks. It is surprisingly Lauren Lee Smith as Mathilda that provides the most intriguing and authentic performance, though Ashley Judd's performance as well as Gorin Visnjic's performance may have suffered a bit more from a script developed by an outsider's view of mental illness rather than their acting ability themselves. This movie taken by a non-professional however, does offer up some of the dramatic aspects of mental illness and refers to a treatment that has been rarely mentioned anymore in mainstream movies on the topic. Overall, this movie deserves wider distribution to the general public as it provides a layperson's look into an important medical issue as well as maintaining a compelling dramatic appeal sufficient to offer the general audience the satisfaction of having experienced a meaningful and worthwhile movie. - Screened at the Sundance Film Festival- Eight out of Ten Stars.
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