Opening 26 Nov 2009
The spotlight on the film Helen, written and directed by Sandra Nettelbeck, is a visual exposé of a woman rapt in the complex world called depression. Nettelbeck’s personal loss of a close childhood friend in 1995 and an article in The New Yorker written by Andrew Solomon in 1968 about his own depression are her inspirations for Helen’s story. Nettelbeck’s compulsion to dig deeper into the illness and to hang on to her main characters’ perception of her own life allows the freedom to silence easy answers but to explore the breakdown in communication that surfaces from depression. Nettelbeck puts a face on love and its impact in a hurting world.
Helen (Ashley Judd) is given a surprise birthday party in the spacious modern living room of her own home. Located behind the numerous bodies of well-wishers is a beautiful grand piano that awaits the touch of Helen’s fingers to fill the room with her music. The piano is a surprise gift from her second husband David (Goran Visnjic) and her thirteen-year-old daughter Julia (Alexia Fast), to encourage her passion for classical music. The love and support from her family and friends constitutes her whole existence. Helen is overwhelmed by their kindness but can’t seem to adequately communicate her sincere gratitude, which has not been a problem until recently. She feels herself slowly slipping away from connecting to the closeness they work hard to nurture. The pattern of disconnect is alarming, and Helen is afraid to acknowledge similar signs that took her to a dark world many years earlier that was the demise of her first marriage. The journey Helen faces to meet her destiny is the result of a unique power of love that defines itself one step at a time. (Karen Pecota)