A se­lec­tion of gems that tackle men­tal health is­sues with in­sight and wit.

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The Skele­ton Twins (Dir. Craig John­son, 2014) Fea­tur­ing an Os­car-wor­thy per­for­mance from SNL favourite

Bill Hader, Craig John­son’s dram­edy The Skele­ton Twins isn’t ex­cep­tional be­cause of its sub­ject mat­ter. A story about es­tranged twins re­u­nited af­ter strug­gles with de­pres­sion, it may be an often hi­lar­i­ously funny dram­edy – but it also has an emo­tional hon­esty and stun­ning re­al­ism that el­e­vates it into some­thing spe­cial. Hader is sim­ply sub­lime as

Milo, a gay waiter ter­ri­fied he may have peaked in high-school. His hi­lar­i­ously bit­ing wit barely con­ceals the raw pain lin­ger­ing un­der­neath. As he self-de­structs by at­tempt­ing sui­cide, drink­ing heav­ily and rekin­dling abu­sive re­la­tion­ships, there are so many glimpses of the wounded boy in him; a bro­ken child scram­bling for love and val­i­da­tion in all the wrong places. Kris­ten Wiig is also fan­tas­tic as Maggie, a woman with all the trap­pings of a per­fect life, but who has a self­de­struc­tive streak of her own. Wiig and Hader’s chem­istry is im­pec­ca­ble, and the film’s de­pic­tion of sib­ling bonds and men­tal ill­ness feels won­der­fully au­then­tic.

Brides­maids (Dir. Paul Feig, 2011)

It’s hard to think of a raunchy Judd Apa­tow com­edy as a beau­ti­ful med­i­ta­tion on de­pres­sion, and yet Brides­maids nailed it. An­nie (Kris­ten Wiig) is in an in­cred­i­bly hard place and can’t pull her­self out of it. She’s freshly bro­ken up with, fi­nan­cially trou­bled and jeal­ous of what oth­ers have. Watch­ing her best friend find her own hap­pi­ness as she gets mar­ried should be won­der­ful, but it’s all the more painful to be left be­hind. The stand-out scene is be­tween An­nie and Me­gan (Melissa McCarthy), in which the lat­ter lit­er­ally pushes An­nie out of her funk. She man­i­fests An­nie’s de­pres­sion phys­i­cally, push­ing her around and telling her she’s worth­less. It’s as strik­ing and pow­er­ful a por­trayal of what it feels like for a per­son liv­ing with de­pres­sion as we can re­mem­ber – but the most vi­tal part of the scene is when An­nie tells Me­gan she has no friends, to which Me­gan replies “You have a friend, me, stand­ing right in front of you.” A per­fect ex­am­ple of the way de­pres­sion can com­pletely warp our per­cep­tion of our­selves.

Edge Of Seven­teen (Dir. Kelly Fre­mon Craig, 2016) In Edge Of Seven­teen, Hailee Ste­in­feld gives a pierc­ingly in­tel­li­gent and win­ning per­for­mance as Na­dine, who just never feels like she fits – a fact ex­ac­er­bated by the ef­fort­less cool of her older brother (Blake

Jen­ner). When her best friend and brother start dat­ing, she feels even more iso­lated, and be­gins to tap into the pain of los­ing her fa­ther a few years pre­vi­ously. Na­dine, even through her strug­gles, is whips­mart and funny, and there are plenty of laughs as Na­dine stum­bles through par­ties, dates and deal­ing with her mother.

But writer-di­rec­tor Kelly Fre­mon

Craig taps into some­thing deeper too; how tricky it is for young peo­ple to ex­press the dif­fer­ence be­tween ev­ery­day teen angst and real strug­gles. Funny, mov­ing and heartwrench­ingly re­lat­able.

Lars And The Real Girl| (Dir. Craig Gille­spie, 2007) In this funny and thought­ful in­die dram­edy, Ryan Gosling por­trays a so­cially awk­ward young man named Lars, who builds a ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ship with a sex doll named Bianca. This sounds like ei­ther an R-rated com­edy or a dis­turb­ing story, but on the con­trary, Lars’ story is warm and em­pa­thetic and show­cases how im­por­tant com­mu­nity and fam­ily are comes re­cov­er­ing from a men­tal ill­ness or ner­vous break­down. Lars’ re­la­tion­ship with Bianca is an odd cop­ing mech­a­nism for se­vere so­cial anx­i­ety, aban­don­ment is­sues and a fear of in­ti­macy, but what ul­ti­mately helps him is how his com­mu­nity’s sup­port al­lows him to use Bianca to build re­la­tion­ships with other peo­ple. A touch­ing film with stel­lar per­for­mances.


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