A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this documentary looks at the life and death of Evan Perry, a teenager who killed himself after a decade-long struggle with bipolar disorder. While the film is informative, it focuses primarily on Evan's family's attempts to cope with his illness and death. Expect detailed discussions about suicide and mental illness and disturbing photographs of Evan practicing how to hang himself. Some may find the movie's subject matter and the heartrending way it's presented overwhelming -- parents, this is one to watch with your teens.
What's the story?
BOY INTERRUPTED chronicles the life and death of 15-year-old Evan Perry, who killed himself by jumping out of an apartment window after struggling with bipolar disorder for 10 years. Created by his parents, filmmakers Dana and Hart Perry, the film shares the details of Evan's life from the time he was born until his death in October 2005. The Perrys use family photos, home videos (including footage shot by Evan himself), and interviews with parents, siblings, teachers, and doctors to try to make sense of his tragic death. As part of their exploration, the family also discusses the suicide of Evan’s uncle, Scott Perry, 30 years before. They also highlight some of the myths that exist about depression and bipolar disorder, many of which are perpetuated by the mainstream media.
Is it any good?
Boy Interrupted is less educational than it is a cathartic healing experience for the Perry family, who made the film as a way to find some meaning behind Evan's death. Although medical professionals are interviewed, the discussions about Evan, his illness, and his death aren't intended to offer substantial clinical information but rather to show the depths to which a child suffering from bipolar disorder can sink -- and the physical and emotional toll that suffering can take on the people around him or her.
The documentary's intensely personal nature and powerful images -- including footage of a very young Evan in the throes of a manic depressive state -- make it very difficult to watch. But, to its credit, the film isn't exploitative. Instead, it succeeds in putting a very human and vulnerable face on bipolar disorder and offers concrete, haunting evidence of what this illness is really about.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about depression and bipolar disorder. What's the difference between the two? What are the symptoms? How can these diseases be treated?
Who can you talk to if you or someone you know is depressed and/or contemplating suicide? Where can you go for help?
How is mental illness portrayed in the mainstream media? Do you think these portrayals help shed light on diseases like bipolar disorder, or do they create misconceptions about what being mentally ill is really like?
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