In the United States, suicide rates have increased a staggering 30 percent in the last two decades. Unfortunately, given our country’s track record in dealing with mental health, it’s unlikely to see much change, which is why movies such as Nadine Crocker’s staggering Continue are so urgently needed for those currently struggling. Croker serves as writer, director, and star of the drama, whose title is stylized as Cont;nue in marketing in support of Project Semicolon, a mental health initiative.
Crocker plays Dean, a clinically depressed woman forced to admit herself to a mental health facility following a suicide attempt. We follow her slow road to recovery as she makes unexpected allies, provides glimpses into her mind’s machinations, and celebrates seemingly inconsequential moments that are milestones for those suffering from depression.
Continue opens in the immediate aftermath of Dean’s attempt on her life. Shards of broken objects abound as we focus on her lying in a crimson pool of her blood. The camera and editing are chaotic and dark, emblematic of the character’s mental state at the time. When Dean’s ex-boyfriend (Anthony Caravella) breaks into her apartment to find her, the film cuts quickly to her being rushed on a gurney through the hospital as she stares blankly through glazed eyes. “Are you watching?” she asks in voiceover. “This is the moment it all ends because of what I did.”
“…a clinically depressed woman forced to admit herself to a mental health facility…”
After Dean’s brief hospitalization, she re-emerges in an attempt to find her footing in the outside world. Anyone who has been affected by suicide will understand that integration is easier said than done. Every moment has the potential to be upended by mental clouds that eclipse any light attempting to slip through. Dean has the misfortune of being a child of two parents with severe mental health issues, losing her mother to a heroin overdose, and finding her father after a particularly grisly suicide. It’s a lot of baggage for one person to carry alone, and she struggles to manage it.
Fortunately, she’s surrounded by a strong system of support: her newfound friend Bria (Lio Tipton), her older sister Bennett (Katt Foster), and boyfriend Trenton (Shiloh Fernandez). This is by no means suggesting Dean’s path will be rosy. The film excels in watching her slip and things get messy with a non-judgmental lens. This authenticity seeps into every frame, giving its lead the berth to err without appearing selfish or wrong, but rather human.
It’s obvious the story of Continue is deeply personable for Crocker, as she matches earnestly behind the lens as well as in front of it. The rich lighting and sound design carefully capture the raw nature of its subject matter, and she coaxes heartfelt performances from her actors across the board. As its primary focus, Corker is fearless, painting Dean with a rich emotional palette that never feels forced. It’s truly a revelatory performance that could only come from one who has lived it.
Continue is not an easy watch, but because of its solemnity and sincerity, it will certainly connect with those who grapple with such issues and seek to connect with stories mirroring their own. And it’s tales such as this that help others better understand the constant struggle so many have when dealing with such mental health matters. Crocker helps shine a light on a societal pandemic that has been neglected for far too long.
"…deeply personable for Crocker..."