Sunday, March 11, 2012

"Of Two Minds" looks at mental illness and family responsibility

The Lifetime film “Of Two Minds” (directed by Jim O’Hanlon) certainly explores the idea of “family responsibility”.  Kristin Davis plays Billie Clark, who, as the movie starts, finds her mother collapsed from a heart attack.  In the hospital, in her last words,  the mom tells Billie to take care of her baby sister Elizabeth, who we soon learn is schizophrenic. Billie and her husband (Joel Gretsch) inherit a house and money, that will keep them out of bankruptcy, but the responsibility to care for  Elizabeth (Tammy Blanchard) is part of the deal. Blanchard plays the part chillingly, almost as if she were possessed at times. 

Billie tells her teenage son Davis (Alexander Le Bas) to learn to take care of his “aunt”, which he does. Le Bas, barely 16 when the film was shot (apparently around Vancouver) makes his character likeable, even powerful, and almost takes over the film as the center of gravity.  He tries to teach “Baby” how to use computers.  (Le Bas is definitely a young actor to watch, a sort of young Ed Norton.) But “Baby’s” behavior is erratic and “selfish” to say the least.  When she makes a move on her nephew, a family crisis ensues. The husband will leave Billie and take the kids if Baby doesn’t leave.  How will Billie navigate this impossible situation?  Another sympathetic relative with a ranch with animals (horses) can figure in to the solution. 

The film makes a point about the difficulty of placing the mentally ill.

When I was a patient at NIH in 1962, one of the female patients exhibited behavior similar to “Baby”, and even through a catatonic fit once, just as in the movie.

It's interesting that at times, Baby thinks no one has done anything for her.  She thinks of the house she is living in as "hers" when it is not.  Since she is part of the family, she acts like she is owed something.   

The official site is here.
The film is a bit over-stylized (as are many lifetime films, mostly produced in Canada, especially British Columbia, on limited budgets).  It could have been tweaked for a theatrical release, as the issues it covers are important.  Lionsgate or Roadside Attractions would have been the logical distributors. 

Update: March 8, 2015

Sony now distributes the DVD.  Imdb says the film was shot around LA but it looks like Vancouver to me.  

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