Elyse

Movie review by
Monique Jones, Common Sense Media
Elyse Movie Poster Image
Interesting take on psychological drama; drinking, language.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 95 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Elyse isn't rife with positive messages, but it can encourage audiences to have empathy for those with severe mental illness, such as severe depression, paranoia, and anxiety. 

Positive Role Models

Dr. Philip Lewis shows Elyse compassion as he tries to heal her from her catatonic state. Elyse's nurse Jack Collins shows her empathy and compassion as he reintroduces her to the world. 

Violence

(Spoiler alert!) Elyse mistakenly hits her son with her car, killing him. Elyse and Steven scream at each other. Elyse hurls obscenities at her mother and at Steven's co-worker/girlfriend. Mention of cutting and suicide. Hints at emotional abuse.

Sex
Language

Ableist words such as "stupid," swear words such as "f--k," "f--king," "bulls--t," "s--t," "ass," "bitch."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Elyse uses wine, champagne, other liquors to self-medicate. She gets drunk, embarrasses herself and her family at her husband's birthday dinner. Mention of taking psychiatric drugs. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Elyse is a drama that centers on a woman named Elyse (Lisa Pepper) who feels emotional pressure from her mother, her husband, and her husband's co-worker/girlfriend. Viewers soon learn that her emotional outbursts are internal, since Elyse is actually in a catatonic state following a family tragedy. The film includes screaming arguments and references to self-harm and suicide, as well as mentions of emotional abuse between mother and daughter. There are also strong hints at alcohol dependency, and characters swear ("f--k," "s--t," etc.). Elyse may increase some viewers' awareness of being compassionate and empathetic toward those who are struggling with mental health. Anthony Hopkins co-stars.

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What's the story?

In ELYSE, Elyse Bridges (Lisa Pepper) is angry at her husband, Steven (Aaron Tucker); her mother, Gloria (Fran Tucker); and Steven's co-worker Carmen (Tara Arroyave), who also happens to be the daughter of Elyse's housekeeper, Julia (Julieta Ortiz). Elyse has felt victimized ever since childhood, and her childhood traumas -- plus Steven's relationship with Carmen -- make her extremely paranoid about herself and her surroundings. At Steven's behest, Elyse visits a therapist, Dr. Philip Lewis (Anthony Hopkins). But it turns out that Dr. Lewis is actually her medical doctor, and Elyse is actually in a state hospital in a severe catatonic state. Her condition comes from a personal tragedy; it's up to her to face that tragedy so she can heal.

Is it any good?

This interesting if imperfect drama is the debut film from Stella Hopkins, a writer-director who's married to actor Anthony Hopkins. He elevates Elyse, which has some of the markers of a student film, in the sense that it's clear that Stella Hopkins is still learning the ropes of writing and directing. That "student project" feel gives the movie a naive charm, but some viewers might think it's too naive in how it approaches a heavy subject like mental illness. Plus, it features a non-disabled actor playing a disabled role. According to WebMD, catatonia can occur to one in 10 people with severe mental illness, meaning it isn't an uncommon experience. Could it have been possible to find an actor who had personal experience with catatonia? Possibly. But while it's true that anyone can develop severe mental illness, some viewers might feel offended by seeing Pepper "crip up."

Despite this issue, Elyse is a competently made film that's engrossing despite its dark subject matter. Stylistic choices keep the film feeling unique, and Anthony Hopkins, of course, delivers a solid performance, forcing the other actors to step up their game. As far as debuts go, it's a solid start for Stella Hopkins' film career. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how to handle emotions. What are some constructive ways to deal with strong emotions?

  • What are the signs of depression or anxiety? How can you help someone who is suffering from depression, anxiety, or other mental issues? How can a therapist help people deal with emotions and feelings?

  • How does the movie encourage empathy? Why is that an important character strength?

  • How does the movie portray drinking? Is it glamorized? Are there real-life consequences? Why does that matter?

Movie details

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