NEW TO VOD! I have personally struggled with mental illness for pretty much my entire life—depression, anxiety…all that fun stuff. I think that even though strides have been made in the right direction in the US, depression and other mental illnesses have a huge stigma. Many go so far as to say that they aren’t “real” and that people can just somehow work their way out of it into a perfect life. If you have ever suffered from any kind of mental illness, you know exactly how untrue and insulting that is. There have been a lot of films about mental illness in women and men from Interiors to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and many more in between.
“She tries so hard to be a good mother and a good wife, but her own mind keeps getting in the way.”
Dean Kapsalis’ The Swerve tackles the subject of mental illness from a different angle. It is a brilliant depiction of a woman struggling with mental illness, which is something we need in a film after Joker, which delves deep into the psyche of a man with mental health issues. The Swerve serves as the opposite side of the same coin, minus any connections to superhero fandom. It shows how hard it can be just to get through an ordinary day, where someone “normal” might have much less trouble getting through it. It shows the necessary ritual of taking pills that sometimes help but never necessarily take the problem away. It shows a lot of the parts of mental illness we don’t typically see on the big screen, the more agonizing parts. Not trusting your own brain, feeling less than enough, almost constantly. It shows many aspects of depression anyone who’s ever dealt with it will find immediately relatable.
The Swerve centers around Holly, played by Azura Skye, and her seemingly normal, if somewhat mundane, life as a high school teacher in a middle-of-nowhere town. As time passes through the film, we start to see that her marriage, kids, job, and family life are far from idyllic. She has trouble coping with her childhood, involving a fraught relationship with her sister, Claudia (Ashley Bell), that is still far from perfect. Her kids are, to be frank, a******s, as most teenagers are wont to be. Her husband, Rob (Bryce Pinkham), works sixteen-hour days at a local supermarket where he’s trying to become a regional manager. She finds herself alone a lot, becoming obsessed with a mouse that won’t go away.
"…tackles the subject of mental illness from a different angle."