The True Meaning of Struggle
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The True Meaning of Struggle

Can we even begin to understand those with mental illnesses?

The True Meaning of Struggle
Indie Wire

A topic that is very hard to discuss would have to be about people with mental illnesses. Every day, when we see someone who is struggling with a mental illness, we either pity them or turn from them due to their strange behavior when it’s not really their fault. In truth, we can never really begin to understand what’s going on in a person’s mind without understanding what it’s like to walk in their shoes. That’s why it always amazes me when a movie comes out that brilliantly depicts a person, real or fictional, that had some form of a mental handicap or trauma and also shows their ability to function in society in ways that we could never imagine. These are some movies that come to mind that I believe did an amazing job and teach an important lesson.

“Silver Linings Playbook”

Bradley Cooper did a masterful job of playing a man whose bipolar disorder caused him to lose both his wife, his job and his reputation, and his attempt at a comeback to reclaim his wife by becoming a friend’s dance partner (Jennifer Lawrence). This movie mainly dealt with romance, sure, but the way Cooper switched back and forth between anger and serenity was honestly mind blowing. In addition to Cooper providing a real struggle to solve social problems while running through a range of emotions, Robert DeNiro magnificently played his OCD father who uses his son as one of his “constants” to keep everything in motion. Not only did this film show struggle and strife, but also reminds us the value of family and loved ones who are there for those in need.

“Rain Man”

So the first thing that comes to mind whenever “Rain Man” is mentioned, most likely, is blackjack. However, that’s only one part of an amazing movie. Tom Cruise stars as a selfish man who lives a lavish lifestyle, when he discover his father left their fortune to an autistic brother named Raymond (Dustin Hoffman) that he didn’t know he had. In an effort to try and get the inheritance, he takes Raymond on a road trip to L.A. as they bond and get to know one another. Back to the blackjack bit, it’s true that while this movie was famous for quite a few things it also showed just how smart those with autism are and how we don’t realize it. Raymond’s impressive ability with numbers may have produced one of the most memorable scenes in cinema, “Rain Man” provides a real emotional journey as Cruise tries to understand and care for his long-lost brother. Just like with “Playbook” this movie shows struggle and the importance of family hand-in-hand. While autism is technically a spectrum condition and not a mental illness, it still raises awareness for those with autism.

“The Accountant”

Bet you didn’t see this coming. While this movie is still fairly new, and the trailers don’t drop that big a hint, the main message of this movie is deeper than you think. Ben Affleck stars as a math savant with a list of social problems who works numbers as an accountant for some of the world’s most dangerous criminal organizations and takes on a new client where there’s been a discrepancy involving millions of dollars. If you’ve seen the trailers or anything like them, you’ll probably think that this is just another action movie about a guy with extraordinary abilities (“Bourne” anyone?), but I realized it’s so much more than that. Without trying to spoil anything, Affleck’s character goes through many challenges since his childhood with a father in the military and is taught how to overcome them in a unique way. This coupled with the ending (again, not saying anything), tells the main point. Not that he’s a badass (which he is), not that he’s a genius (which he is), but that the mentally impaired are more capable and smarter than we give them credit for. If they’re given the right challenge under the right circumstance, they can overcome and accomplish anything.

“Lars and the Real Girl”

Ryan Gosling stars as a sweet, but shy man who longs to connect to people, but with an ever bigger desire to attempt to. In order to try and create some form of companionship, in his delusions he orders a sex doll and invents a personality and backstory for her. In an effort to help him, the entire town goes along with the act. Gosling did an amazing job of playing a delusional man whose schizoid-personality disorder manifest itself into his fantasies as he “talks” to his doll. I have to say, this is one of the few movies I’ve cried in, and when you see the effort and extent to which an entire town goes to to help one man, you’ll understand why.

“Black Swan”

This modern adaptation of Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” stars Natalie Portman as a competitive ballerina whose struggle to hold onto the lead role, ends up a battle for her sanity. In a thrilling and somewhat shocking story, Portman’s paranoia, delusions, OCD and eating disorders all wrapped up into a whirl of severe schizophrenia and show how the pressures of fame can really affect the mind. In her delusions, Portman’s character begins to believe she really is the black swan of “Swan Lake” and I honestly had a hard time thinking otherwise.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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