A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
If you're suffering from anxiety or depression, you aren't alone. Also, you are enough, just as you are. Offers an honest look at postpartum depression. Works to convey that death by suicide isn't a solution.
Positive Role Models
Julie is kind, warm, and loving, but she allows her negative thoughts and suicidal ideation to get the best of her, and she tries to end her life. Julie's husband and mother are both loving and supportive, doing the best they can to keep Julie emotionally afloat.
Largely White cast, with one Latino supporting character. The fact that the film shows what it feels like to experience postpartum depression, something one in five new mothers will experience, helps normalize the issue/condition.
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Violence & Scariness
Suicidal gestures are depicted on camera; the actual injury happens out of the viewers' sight. Film is focused on the distress felt by the person who attempts suicide and the impact that has on her family (the intent is to convey that ending your life isn't a solution). Clues to a trauma Julie experienced as a child are sprinkled throughout, but it's not clear what happened. Parent speaks and treats a child harshly.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Married couple kisses passionately.
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A couple of uses of strong language, including "a--hole" and "f--k."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink beer in several social situations.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that A Mouthful of Air is an insightful, delicate portrayal of a new mother named Julie (Amanda Seyfried) whose postpartum depression (PPD) leads to suicidal ideation (and more). The intent is to educate viewers about the signs of PPD and to let new moms know that they're not alone in feeling overwhelmed or that they're failing. But Julie is skilled at pretending that everything's OK -- a common trait in those experiencing depression -- and the nuance of her situation may be tricky for younger viewers to grasp. Clues to a trauma Julie experienced as a child are sprinkled throughout, but it's not clear what happened or how the incident is influencing her mental health. On the other hand, Julie accepts that she needs psychiatric help and medication and is open to talking about her attempted suicide. The film opens with a warning that those who've experienced anxiety and depression may find the content upsetting, but the graphic aspects of Julie's suicidal actions aren't shown on camera (instead, viewers see a close-up of Julie's face as she harms herself). Expect a few instances of strong language ("a--hole," "f--k," etc.), passionate kissing between a married couple, and social drinking by adults. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
An exploration of the desperate sadness felt by an overhwelmed new mother makes for insightful drama, but this isn't a happy film. That said, it does provide some answers. Anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation/actions are all on the rise these days, which can leave those who've been spared those challenges feeling baffled. Why would someone who "has it all" be suffering like this? Amy Koppelman, adapting and directing from her own same-named novel, offersviewers the ultimate conundrum: Why would a lucky new mom living a privileged life with a loving husband, a great career, and a happy, healthy baby want to take her own life? Koppelman allows viewers to see Julie's story up close, which encourages understanding, but audiences are still kept at a distance. Julie writes children's books and is living her "happily ever after." But when her doting husband, Ethan (Finn Wittrock) looks directly into her eyes, saying he wants to see her, she gets agitated. Julie harbors insecurities that if Ethan really saw her, truly knew who she was on the inside, he would be repulsed.
Koppelman knows this subject matter: She wrote the source novel after struggling with her own depression after the birth of her children in the 1990s, when postpartum depression (PPD) was more often unrecognized. While the novel earned praised for letting readers walk in the shoes of someone experiencing PPD, the film only allows viewers to look at Julie, not through her eyes. We see Julie becoming unable to make simple decisions or to relax about her child's safety, and we see her flat face and tone of voice when she's going through the motions of taking care of her baby instead of being plugged in. We hear Julie share her own explanations of feeling like she's destined to fail. But it's still third person; viewers are left not knowing what it's like to be Julie -- or what she really needs to recover. Audiences may walk away with the abillity to recognize the signs of severe PPD, but without material recommendations of how to help someone else -- or yourself -- who's struggling with suicidal ideation, the film falls short of its potential.
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