The best art, it is said, mirrors our world and our lives in meaningful ways. The best of the best are able to achieve a level of emotional connection that causes us to feel for the characters, as well as reflect on ourselves.
It moves us in numerous ways and leaves us feeling all kinds of emotions. We don’t want to argue about what makes art “the best,” as we believe that kind of stuff is completely up to each and every person.
But we do want to talk about the kind of art that has affected us, specifically in film. Film is one of the most widespread and most popular examples of art that exists, and we can all relate to having a film connect with you in a certain way. Unfortunately, as is the case with so many parts of life, film has had some trouble in its portrayal of mental illness.
Whether it vilifies the problem, doesn’t express it properly, or just gets simple facts about the issue wrong, film has had some trouble in telling the proper stories about mental illness. But there are those that have succeeded, the films that tell the right kind of story about mental illness that connects with us in meaningful ways.
We hope that by sharing these, you can find something that you’ve been looking for and a connection you have always wanted in a film.
Silver Linings Playbook
This 2012 drama tells the story of two individuals struggling with bipolar disorder who fall in love over their mutual trauma and connection their illness has created. The performances by Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence are absolutely fantastic and they both bring nuance to their characters, showing vulnerability while trying so hard to remain strong.
The film is just a sincere telling of what it is like to struggle with bipolar disorder. David O. Russell’s film is a sort of gift for his son, who struggles with bipolar and OCD. This sort of love letter to his son gave the director a sense of realism and respect that is reflected throughout the entire film.
Pixar’s foray into the complexities of emotion and mental health came out in 2015, and it once again proved that the studio is on top of its game. What sets this film apart for us isn’t just that it tells a story of mental health and emotional well-being, but it does so in the context of a child, a demographic that is often neglected when thinking about mental illness.
The story of a young girl’s emotions trying to cope with the stress and chaos of moving to a new city is a beautiful tale of how it is okay for us to feel. It shows us how sadness is a necessary part of life, how joy and sadness are intertwined, and however painful it may be, we have to let our emotions be.
We cannot get rid of emotions; we can embrace them and accept the fact that we are human. What the young girl is going through is something we can all relate to and how, as a child, life is scary and confusing, and we don’t always know how to process everything.
Pixar gave us a truly magnificent film that tackles hard topics in a real, accessible way.
We have touched on this film before but we can’t overstate just how important this film is. A story of a man’s ignored mental illness and how society neglects his needs is incredibly relevant right now.
It is a hard film to swallow and it does not pull any punches, but it is absolutely necessary for what it is saying. It is a mirror placed in front of us and forces us to reflect on how we create these monsters.
It does not sympathize or make the villain seem to be a good person, but rather it gives us an idea of how these people come to be who they are. It is a tragic story, not a glorifying one. It is an absolute powerhouse of a film that deserves to be talked about for years to come.
There is our list. We hope that somewhere in this shortlist is a film that you haven’t seen and can now connect with. Finding a story that connects with you is one of the most beautiful experiences we can have in life, especially with mental illness.
We all can feel lifted up when we see an appropriate story told in film. The film industry still has a way to go to get to where it needs to be in its portrayals of mental illness, but they are on the right path. We all have stories that deserve to be told and, one day, they will be.
If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with anxiety or mental illness, do not hesitate to contact the team here at True Recovery. Our program, founded in 2014, is built around finding what’s best for you to overcome your addiction.
Our facility is located in Newport Beach, California, with our supportive housing located close to our campus in Costa Mesa. Take advantage of the local beaches, nature preserves, and Orange County community while we fight for you. Contact us at (866) 399-6528.