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Review: Mental illness treated sympathetically in romantic drama ‘Elizabeth Blue’

Anna Schafer in the film "Elizabeth Blue."
Anna Schafer in the film “Elizabeth Blue.”
(Nittle Baby Productions)

Writer-director Vincent Sabella drew from personal experience to craft the bleak mental illness romantic drama “Elizabeth Blue.” The film clearly comes from a place of deep knowledge about the intricacies of schizophrenia but has an unfortunate tendency to overexplain itself.

Anna Schafer gives a harrowing performance as Elizabeth, a troubled young woman who dives into planning her wedding to boyfriend Grant (Ryan Vincent) the moment she’s released from an involuntary stay in a psych ward. Under the stress of her relationship and attempts to get better, her medications are soon failing.

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (who also produced), is wonderfully warm as the therapist, Dr. Bowman, a reassuring presence who stands in contrast to Elizabeth’s hot and cold fiancé.

While Elizabeth’s story feels real, it does give one pause to consider that a film about a schizophrenic woman obsessed with the feminine ritual of marriage was made by men. It feels like a gendered stereotype taken to the extreme.

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The reveal of the film’s central conceit occurs long after the audience has picked up on it. There are times when “Elizabeth Blue” drifts into “edu-tainment” territory, though the intent to unflinchingly reveal the struggle of mental illness is sincere.

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‘Elizabeth Blue’

Rating: PG-13, for mature thematic content and a scene of sensuality

Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

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Playing: Arena Cinelounge Sunset, Hollywood

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