My opinion after the jump.
Well this blog post is going to be a bit more serious than the traditional posts you can expect to see in the future, but I say in the about me that this blog intends to share things that have changed your perception, or at least distorted it, and this movie had that effect on me tonight.
Let me begin by saying, I’m not an objective movie critic in this situation. My mother was diagnosed with bipolar disorder around the time I began high school, at the time her marriage was breaking up. The disease has had a larger impact on my own life than anything else, and it still effects my life on a day to day basis.
The movie does an absolutely stunning job portraying the truth of mental illness by accurately showing the impact that it has on everyone from the person inflicted, to his loved ones, and even those who are members of the same community. Bradley Cooper’s performance is incredible, the manic episodes are frighteningly realistic, and his acting really demonstrates the constant battle that mental illness is. Robert De Niro is just as convincing in his role, and the other supporting characters were strong as well. What I guess impressed me the most was the accuracy with which the movie showed daily life. Everything from showing the importance and strength of triggers (the wedding song) on bipolar people, to the curiosity and horror with which the town regards mental illness was accurate, and not dramatized. (Unlike the Disney ending, which it could have done without, but that’s kind of irrelevant to this review)
So why did this movie have such an effect on me if I was already so aware of the struggles that those with mental illnesses face? Well, beyond my mother, I had no other direct interaction with the disorder, or really any other mental disorder, and as a result I didn’t understand the scope of the issue in society. My mother’s illness was exactly that, my mother’s illness. The incredible thing that this movie did tonight was help me realize not that many other families are pushed to the absolute brink of collapse by it, but rather the power that support and love from family, friends, and others truly has.
Before this becomes all lovey dovey (like the end of the movie) I’ll also say that this sometimes this love may not me enough to let you see beyond the ugliness of the illness. There were times I said, “If you love me, you will stop” and my mother didn’t stop, and I would write her off as toxic and not speak to her for months even, hiding behind the court instituted restraining order. I know what right thing to do would be, and I wish I could have acted differently, but I am also human, and I know I have always loved her as much as anything, I just can’t always be strong enough to act upon it. I know this will not all magically change. But I also learned that the love within a family is always felt within the person inflicted by these diseases, and I need to find ways to have my mother understand that I always love her, no matter how much I may hate her disease.