Last year executive producer Jennifer Aniston and Lifetime started the FIVE film project which brought five female directors together to direct five short films about domestic violence. This year the focus switches to mental illness with films about bipolar disorder, depression, PTSD, schizophrenia and how the illnesses affect friends, family, partners and careers. Bryce Dallas Howard, Laura Dern, Bonnie Hunt, Ashley Judd and Sharon Maguire direct the films.
Brittany Snow plays Lucy, a schizophrenic, in three of the films. In this film she suffers a breakdown during law school as she goes off her meds. She’s institutionalized and meets and befriends Bruce [Jason Ritter]. They spent quite a bit of time in group therapy and walking around on the grounds of this really nice rehab facility. Lucy’s quite shook up and doubtful about her intended career as a lawyer due to her mental health. A psychotherapist [Academy-award winner Octavia Spencer] convinces her to use her illness to her advantage. Snow’s quite talented. Very impressive and emotive in this role. Not too theatrical or flat. She’s just right. Truly convincing.
With a single mom, played by the venerable Melissa Leo, suffering from bipolar disorder her teenaged daughter [Sarah Hyland] must effectively become the parent. When her mom endures manic and depressive episodes, she hides them from her friends as it’s difficult to explain and embarrassing as a teenager to have an abnormal mom. One afternoon her mom takes her friends on a shopping spree and Grace witnesses her becoming frighteningly unhinged. Hyland and Leo have a strong connection. Director Laura Dern captures the manic and depressive episodes quite well with colors and camera movement.
When Lucy [Snow] returns home it’s to the dismay of her younger sister Allison [Sofia Vassilieva] who brought her boyfriend to meet her parents and never expected to see her sister who she considers unstable. She’s not very understanding or supportive to Lucy. Finally she says, “I’m not afraid of you. I’m afraid of becoming you.” It turns out that Allison’s been worried that she’d develop schizophrenia just like Lucy.
Eddie [Mitch Rouse] is a comedian with depression. How could that be possible? He’s married and has plenty of friends too. Depression isn’t about one’s environmental situation. It’s about brain chemistry. Eddie’s in such despair and pain that he’s contemplating suicide. He’s become much darker than usual. Only his wife [Lea Thompson] recognizes this about him though.
Ashley Judd directs Jennifer Hudson as a soldier returning home after repeatedly being raped by her superior officer. She’s suffering from PTSD and ends up having her son taken away from her. Lucy is back and she’s representing Maggie. When Maggie isn’t too keen on it being Lucy’s first case Lucy explains that she understands what it’s like for others not to understand about her mental health. Lucy says: “I have seen thousands of spiders running up my best friend’s face.”
There’s such a strong stigma regarding mental illness that makes it difficult for people to honestly discuss. Anyone who has a mental illness or knows someone with a mental illness will understand and recognize the struggles faced by those in the films. There’s constant maintenance and vigilance. It takes a support system and perseverance. For someone who doesn’t know someone with mental illness perhaps these short films will dispel some misconceptions.
CALL ME CRAZY airs SATURDAY, APRIL 20 on LIFETIME at 8 PM ET/PST
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