Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Boy Interrupted (2008)

Dana Heinz Perry


Dana Heinz Perry's 'Boy Interrupted' is a moving and engrossing documentary about the mental illness that took the life of her 15-year-old son, Evan. Suffering from bi-polar disorder, Evan Scott Perry committed suicide in Oct., 2005 while in the depths of a black depression. Bi-polar disorder runs in the family. Evan's uncle, Scott, who suffered from the same mental illness, took his own life in 1971 at the age of 22. Well made, compassionate, insightful, and unbearably sad, 'Boy Interrupted' is an important film. Yet, yet... There's a troubling subtext here that is largely taken for granted by the Perry family. Simply put, the Perrys are rich folks, very rich folks. They have an apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side, a house in the country, etc., etc., and are able to afford the best schools and--once Evan exhibits signs of madness--the very best psychiatric care and facilities that money can buy. When Scott died the family commissioned a renowned sculptor to create a special monument and Scott's brother, Hart Perry (Dana's husband and Evan's father) made a commemorative film at that time. When Evan died, the Perrys commemorated him with 'Boy Interrupted' and helped to fund a new building at one of the facilities that had treated him. These are warm, human gestures which assure that Scott and Evan will not simply vanish from the earth without a trace. But what if the afflicted Scott and Evan Perry had come from impoverished circumstances? No top shelf care. No fancy monuments. No documentary films. No kid glove treatment. Just unadulterated suffering, death, and subsequent, eternal anonymity. That's what happens to the thousands of Scotts and Evans who don't come from money. Think about that reality also.


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