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
German screenwriter and director Sandra Nettelbeck's third feature film which she wrote, is inspired by an article in the New Yorker magazine called "The Anatomy Of Melancholia" from 1998 by American writer Andrew Solomon. It premiered at the 25th Sundance Film Festival in 2009, was shot on location in Canada and is a Canada-USA-UK-Germany co-production which was produced by producers Christine Haebler and Judy Tossell. It tells the story about a professor named Helen Leonard who's life with her husband David and daughter Julie alters after she has a seizure. Helen is somewhat improved after meeting a doctor and befriending a woman named Mathilda who has been struggling with manic depression for several years, but as her kinship with Mathilda grows she becomes estranged from her family.
Finely and engagingly directed by German filmmaker Sandra Nettelbeck, this quietly paced fictional tale which is narrated from multiple viewpoints though mostly from the protagonist's point of view, draws a humane and heartrending portrayal of a successful woman who becomes unrecognizable to her family after falling into a severe depression. While notable for it's naturalistic milieu depictions and fine production design by production designer Linda Del Rosario, this dialog-driven and tangible story depicts a mindful study of character and contains a great score by composer Tim Despic.
This unsentimental psychological drama about mental illness and how it affects a 40-year-old woman's life, her personality and her family, is set in Canada and is impelled and reinforced by it's cogent narrative structure, substantial character development, compassionate characters and the fine acting performances by American actress Ashley Judd, Canadian actress Lauren Lee Smith, Croatian actor Goran Visnjic and Canadian actress Alexia Fast. An involving, empathic and significant love-story which carefully examines it's central theme and overcomes becoming overly melancholic.
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