Mental illness is a touchy subject to depict in film. It is hard to get it right and not be offensive. The actress who plays the sister with schizophrenia is very good in this Lifetime television film and yet her strong performance is not enough to elevate it to the “good” level. It is the acting of the better known female lead and the somewhat hokey story that succeeds in sinking this ship.
Other than some financial problems Billie (Kristen Davis – from television’s Sex and the City) and her family are living a good life. They have a wonderful home in the suburbs and love each other. That is all about to change once Billie’s mother (Bonnie Bartlett – Twins, Primary Colors) dies.
Billie has been estranged from her family. She has a younger sister, Baby (Tammy Blanchard – Moneyball, The Good Shepherd), who is a schizophrenic and there is some tension between the two. Once their mother dies, however, and Baby has nowhere else to go she comes to live with Billie and her family.
It is an adjustment for everyone. Baby becomes close to Billie and Rick’s (Joel Gretsch – The Legend of Bagger Vance, Minority Report) teenage son, Davis (Alexander Le Bas). Maybe this is due to the fact that he is also awkward socially. Whatever the case the two form a bond.
Soon it becomes clear that Billie cannot give Baby the care that she needs and a difficult decision will have to be made.
Families all across the world have to deal with mental illness. This is a film and a situation many can relate to.
Despite the fact that she is better known of the two lead actresses, Kristen Davis’ flat performance is what ultimately lets down Of Two Minds. In the scenes she has with her co-lead she does not hold up her end of the bargain and is very stilted. Too bad because Tammy Blanchard’s note perfect performance in a much more challenging role is wasted. Blanchard is the perfect mix of vulnerable, unpredictable, tortured, and loveable. Mental illness is difficult to play without going over the top and making a mockery of a very serious condition that affects millions. Blanchard shows she is up to the challenge with her realistic and nuanced performance.
There are other minor flaws like odd, mistimed dialogue and some of the character’s reactions or behaviours will make you scratch your head, but they are not enough to turn you off.
-Previews for The Words, Frank and Robot, Sparkle, Hope Springs