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32 Pills: My Sister's Suicide (2017)

She's beautiful, artistic, loved and can't stand to be alive. 32 PILLS traces the fascinating life and mental illness of my sister, New York artist and photographer Ruth Litoff, and my struggle to come to terms with her tragic suicide.

Director:

Hope Litoff
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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She's beautiful, artistic, loved and can't stand to be alive. 32 PILLS traces the fascinating life and mental illness of my sister, New York artist and photographer Ruth Litoff, and my struggle to come to terms with her tragic suicide.

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Official Sites:

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Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 November 2017 (USA) See more »

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HBO Documentary Films See more »
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Color
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User Reviews

 
A Brave Attempt at Objectivity
17 December 2017 | by Moviegoer19See all my reviews

I often don't read others' reviews before writing my own but in this case I did, perhaps because there are so few. I'm troubled by them and their harsh judgments of Hope Litoff and her film about her sister, Ruth. Of course Hope herself is a big part of the film. She and her sister were very close, beginning in childhood. She shows this and states this more than once, in different ways. Especially in youth, there was a blurring of boundaries between them. In a way, this film becomes the merging of the two sisters that they wished for in childhood.

Hope is accused by reviewers of focusing too much on herself in the film. But I disagree: the film is about her trying to understand and accept her sister's death, as well as her sister's life, including her so-called mental illness. The film is about both of them. As such, I think she did a commendable job of presenting her family and exploring what happened and why. That she herself had or has addiction issues, well, okay, and maybe she did focus on them to add some drama to the film. So what!? I think it worked to flesh out an investigative presentation of both her and her sister and their overlapping lives. I feel that I've gotten a strong and accurate picture of two sisters and the pain experienced by the surviving one. The only thing I found a little hard to comprehend myself was why Hope had such difficulty understanding why her sister took her life. If anything, that was the piece that Hope overdid. Hope is obviously intelligent and astute and probably did intellectually understand the answer to that "why". The question was most likely used as a thematic thread to give the film its direction and goal, and a way to give definition to her emotional nonacceptance of her sister's suicide.

The other thing I would have liked was more focus on Ruth's work. The focus was on her flower photographs that wound up as the Bellevue exhibit Hope completed on behalf of her sister. There was, however, a brief mention of Ruth's other photos which for me recalled the work of Diane Arbus. In fact, having read the autobiography of Diane Arbus, I believe there's more than one comparison between Ruth Litoff and Arbus, to be made.

Anyway, I congratulate Hope on both making and completing this film, and on living as happy a life as possible, given her history.


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