The Year Between Image

The Year Between

By Jason Delgado | September 28, 2022

Growing into young adulthood sucks by its very nature because of the awkwardness and uncertainty many of us experience during those years. Throw in depression and bipolar disorder, and you have a veritable cocktail of sadness and instability. Writer/director/star Alex Heller’s The Year Between is a film that gives us a window into the aforementioned issues because it is based on her real-life struggles with mental health.

Alex Heller plays Clemence, a young lady who comes back to her family home in Illinois to live in the basement after having an incident with her roommate at college. Shortly after returning, her mother, Sherri (J. Smith-Cameron), takes her to a psychiatrist named Dr. Lismoen (Waltrudis Buck). While in the waiting room, there’s a grown woman sitting there sobbing uncontrollably. Clemence hilariously and candidly asks her, “What is wrong with you?” Throughout the movie, her character is quite direct, which usually comes off as rude. Dr. Lismoen diagnoses Clemence with bipolar disorder since she exhibits various symptoms, including hoarding, stealing, paranoia, and extreme insomnia.

Clemence and her siblings, Neil (Wyatt Oleff) and Carlin (Emily Robinson), do not get along because they feel like she’s a big drain on the entire family. Their father, Don (the great Steve Buscemi), tries to be the glue to hold them together, but the weight of it all gets to him. Subsequently, he goes off on Sherri about small issues, such as where in the kitchen he can place his new juicer. Clemence tries to make a new friend at work in Beth (Kyanna Simone). She also meets potential love interest Ashik (Rajeev Jacob), but she’s so awkward and means that you can guess how those turn out.

Dr. Lismoen diagnoses Clemence with bipolar disorder…”

Mental health has been a hot-button issue for the last few years, for good reason. The rise of social media alone started to change the wiring inside our brains. Then the pandemic/lockdown came down like a hammer, affecting us all to varying degrees. The job market is in flux because nowadays, people just up and quit their jobs in record numbers if they’re unsatisfied. World-class gymnast Simon Biles withdrew from the Olympics due to her mental health. Suicide rates, addiction, and depression are all sky high. The times are “a-changing,” yet I haven’t really seen it reflected lately in popular films (other than the Green Goblin in Spider-Man: No Way Home), so it’s refreshing to see mental health being deeply examined with The Year Between.

This is a special cast, and I love the performances, especially from the wonderful J. Smith-Cameron and Heller, but I must say that it is a difficult film to watch. I believe that the movie was intended to be this way since bipolar disorder is no picnic. However, that doesn’t make it any easier to watch Clemence suffer or the way that she treats everyone so badly. Since Heller is a comedian in real life, there were ample opportunities to lighten the mood, but she didn’t go that route, instead staying true to her misery.

The Year Between culminates with a beautifully emotional scene, but the journey to get there is a challenge, much like for those who are suffering from a number of mental health issues. But the performances and the overall message of empathy made it worth it all for me. Hopefully, it will also help those suffering to know they aren’t alone.

The Year Between (2022)

Directed and Written: Alex Heller

Starring: Alex Heller, J. Smith-Cameron, Steve Buscemi, Waltrudis Buck, Wyatt Oleff, Emily Robinson, Kyanna Simone, Rajeev Jacob, etc.

Movie score: 6/10

The Year Between Image

"…I love the performances..."

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