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April 30, 2018 | by  | in Arts Film |
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Mental Health in Film

The Old: Lars and the Real Girl

By Amy Stimson

4.5 stars

This is perhaps the saddest film I have ever loved. I watched it in a cinema full of people who watched it and laughed at the funny parts. I cried. I was doing my Masters thesis on loneliness at the time and the whole way through I was just thinking “this is what loneliness would look like if it were visible”.

The film centres around Lars (Ryan Gosling fittingly playing an incomprehensible misfit), living in his married brother’s garage apartment. One day he brings home his girlfriend, Bianca. She is a mail-order life-size inflatable doll. To the horror of his family and the bemusement of their small town, Bianca becomes a functioning part of his life (though she is in a wheelchair – quadriplegic, you know). All his loved ones attempt to support him and Bianca during her visit.

The film gently navigates the tricky questions it poses about loneliness, about manhood, about family, about communication, about relationships, and about loving each other unconditionally. It’s poignant, it’s funny, and features truly moving performances by Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson, and a surprisingly redemptive role by Paul Schneider. Watch with a good friend; you’ll need a real person to hug afterwards.

The New: The Skeleton Twins

By Emma Maguire

4.5 stars

Milo (Bill Hader) makes an attempt on his own life. He wakes up in a hospital room to see his sister, Maggie (Kristen Wiig), who has been narrowly stopped from doing the same thing. The pair reconcile, and Milo moves in with Maggie and her husband, Lance. Things quickly devolve from there, as circumstances erode Milo and Maggie’s relationship, and the pair nearly meet their end together.

It is bizarre to see noted comic actors in such a serious piece. This is a dark film, it pulls no punches, but it also has a weird kind of comedy to it. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether to laugh or cry.

This is a film about serious depression. It’s a film about spiraling so deep that it doesn’t seem like there’s hope for recovery. But it’s not just a film about that. The Skeleton Twins is a film for siblings. Though Maggie and Milo have grown apart, they’re still able to hark back to their youth together. It is likely a testament to Hader and Wiig’s long friendship that they can play off each other so strongly.

It’s also a film about recovery. Maggie and Milo go through a lot during the course of this film — both of them basically have their lives ruined — but they find a way to pull through. Though recovery is hard, it’s entirely possible, even at the end of all things.

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