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Superb documentary of alcoholic woman
At the conclusion of this powerful documentary chronicling her mother's life and alcoholism, filmmaker Sherri VandenAkker calls her an "accidental feminist." The film truthfully, even relentlessly, details the physical and mental toll drink took on the once beautiful Bette, an accomplished nurse who loved her work. Nevertheless, viewers are left with the portrait of a hard-working, courageous woman who succumbed to a disease rather than a pitiful, weak addict who chose indulgence over discipline. This dual vision--the struggling, lovable human being who became a recluse living in "an animal's den," as her daughter Krystyn White describes her mother's home--makes the film a lesson in both the dangers of alcoholism and the challenges women faced as workers, wives, and mothers in the late twentieth century.
VandenAkker provides solid evidence of how women's alcoholism differs from men's in devastating ways: why women are less likely to seek rehabilitation; the link between drinking and depression in women; and the greater stigma attached to alcoholic women. Throughout, she skillfully interposes folk art drawings by Parker Lanier, a recovering alcoholic whose pictures movingly illustrate the loneliness inherent in hopeless alcoholism and the spirituality and hope provided by Alcholics Anonymous's 12-step program. Bette never recovered, and VandenAkker does not shrink from the isolation and squalor of her mother's final years. Still, the determination and joy of her two daughters--both of whom speak with sorrow and love about their mother--and their belief that their mother's life had beauty and purpose despite its pain, will bring solace to those living with alcoholism and enlighten others about this family disease.
Highly recommended for academic and personal use.