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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
At first I didn't like this movie a whole lot. As other reviewers have already pointed out, it's merciless in its stereotypical portrayal of people: every character in the movie is a royal jerk except for the 2 depressed people, and it gives the impression that all doctors are cold-hearted sadists, all spouses are selfish psychos, and people in general are totally apathetic.
But hold on...
Then it suddenly dawned on me, duh, that's exactly how one views the world when one is in the throes of depression. I believe it wasn't the filmmakers' intent to make an objective film. I think they were out to show us a somewhat skewed perspective through the eyes of a depressed person. At that, it's very successful.
So yes, this is a depressing movie. It's dark. It's irritating. It makes you feel like the world is a sucky place. But if, for some bizarre reason, you want to know what it's like to be depressed, then this is the movie for you.
I can't say that I "enjoyed" it (I'm no masochist!) but I can say that it's very well made, with excellent acting, effective cinematography (good use of focus & blurring), and a fitting musical score. Just as "Peewee's Big Adventure" takes us into the mind of a manically happy person with its cartoon colours and bouncy pace, "Helen" shows us the opposite side of the coin with its darkness, bleached visuals and monotonous presentation. If you want to know what it's like to be bipolar, I suppose you could watch the 2 movies back to back.
Movies like this: "House of Sand and Fog" (or as I like to call it, "House of Sand and Why Don't We Just Slit Our Wrists and Save Ourselves the DVD Rental Fee") and "Leaving Las Vegas". All of these are excellent films. But wow, hide the sharp metal objects before viewing.
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