Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Movie with Abe: Elizabeth Blue

Elizabeth Blue
Directed by Vincent Sabella
Released September 22, 2017

Mental illness is a difficult struggle that’s extremely difficult to understand and relate to for those who haven’t experienced it. There is a great deal of stigma attached to mental illness, and those who suffer from it are often reluctant to publicize or admit it because of the reactions they know they will receive from others. Schizophrenia is one affliction that can be especially harrowing, since it presents hallucinations that may seem real to the experiencer, creating a distorted perception of reality that those watching it from the outside are hopeless to be able to comprehend.

Elizabeth (Anna Schafer) has been recently released from a psychiatric hospital, and is making a slow and careful reentry into normal life. Her fiancé Grant (Ryan Vincent) is her one constant, there to support her and to be by her side even when he can’t relate to what she is going through, in stark contrast to her mother (Kathleen Quinlan), whose attitude about her daughter’s state of mind has always been dismissive and condescending. Her therapist Dr. Bowman (Adewale Akkinuoye-Agbaje) encourages her to make strides, but stresses the importance of medication and resisting the urge to be swayed by hallucinations, something that Elizabeth has trouble with as she faces her new reality head-on.

This is not the kind of film that glosses over its subject matter and attempts to paint an idyllic portrait of conquering the battle over mental illness. Instead, it is one that deals with the unglamorous and unpleasant state of not being able to have control over one’s mind. Elizabeth still functions as a human being, but she’s held back so much by the way that she knows her mind might play tricks on her, as well as a lingering dread that Grant will one day just disappear.

What makes this film particularly poignant is that director Vincent Sabella based this story on his own experiences as a schizophrenic who went through periods of his medications not working. The film’s partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness is a tribute to its effectiveness as a strong step in combatting stigma and exposing the way that many without a loud voice experience the world. As a film, it is involving and powerful, if not overly cinematic or especially creative. It serves its purpose well enough and should prove to be a strong and eye-opening educational tool.


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