- 2 hr
Helen is a 2009 drama film, directed by Sandra Nettelbeck and starring Ashley Judd, Goran Visnjic, and Lauren Lee Smith. The movie explores the life of a successful music professor who begins to experience mental health issues, causing her to lose her job, friends, and family. The film opens to a high point in Helen's (Ashley Judd) life. She is a successful music professor at a prestigious university, has a loving boyfriend, and a close group of friends. However, as the movie progresses, Helen begins to spiral into a state of confusion and depression. She begins to forget things, becomes disoriented and can't focus on anything. What initially seems like absentmindedness spirals into a condition that progressively worsens. As her mental state declines, Helen loses her job and her friends start to distance themselves from her. She starts to have trouble getting out of bed, and her boyfriend becomes increasingly frustrated with her situation. Despite all this, the movie does not take a victimization approach, but envisions Helen as a powerful figure in control of her own life. Meanwhile, Helen's condition brings her closer to a young student named Mathilda (Lauren Lee Smith) who has also been struggling with mental health issues. Mathilda becomes somewhat of a confidante for Helen and helps her deal with her condition. The two women form a strong bond that is pivotal in Helen's journey. Throughout the film, the audience watches Helen go through a variety of therapy sessions as she tries to get to the bottom of what's going on with her. Goran Visnjic plays Dr. Juliette, a psychologist who helps Helen open up about her past experiences and her anxieties. Through these sessions and her newfound relationship with Mathilda, Helen is finally able to confront and work through her issues. Nettelbeck's direction of Helen is insightful and compassionate, taking a realistic portrayal of mental health issues. The film underscores the importance of getting the necessary care and support, especially from mental health professionals, family, and friends, to help people get on track to healing. The film's score, composed by Rolfe Kent, is evocative and beautifully done, creating a nuanced and understated ambiance that creates a lovely narrative feedback loop between the music and the movie. Ultimately, Helen is a powerful film that tackles an often-stigmatized issue with compassion, incredible acting from the principal actors, and a great soundtrack. It depicts the important journey of Helen to recover herself in the face of mental health problems, bringing awareness and support to those suffering from similar circumstances.