Losing My Marbles (Depois a louca sou eu) Movie Review: A therapeutic film about anxiety and self-acceptance
A simple, satisfying film about mental struggles
There is a new Portuguese film out on Amazon Prime Video, which I decided to check out for a simple reason: the lead character is a writer-columnist battling severe anxiety issues. Losing My Marbles (Depois a louca sou eu) has a strong female presence on and off-screen. It comes from author Tati Bernardi, whose novel became the basis for the film, director Julia Rezende, and actress Débora Falabella.
Director: Julia Rezende
Cast: Débora Falabella, Gustavo Vaz, Yara de Novaes
Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video
Since I haven't read the book, I'm assuming the lead character, Dani (Débora Falabella), is the alter-ego of Tati Bernardi. For Dani, almost everything around her is a trigger. Have you ever cancelled that birthday party, meeting, or a date simply because sudden panic held you in its vice-like grip? Then you will find Dani a very relatable character even if you haven't experienced the sort of extreme episodes that she goes through. Anxiety, in varying degrees, is the film's primary antagonist.
When the film opens, Dani pictures the child version of herself running with a bag of marbles that comes undone sending its contents rolling in different directions. Dani, who works as a copywriter in an ad agency and writes a self-help column in a newspaper, often finds her anxiety getting in the way of her work. She fears cockroaches, failure, the thought of her parents dying, the world ending, and so on. Debora acts out each of these episodes so convincingly that one can feel everything she is going through. And there is no particular incident that made Dani this way. She was born in a family where each member has their quirks. Her mother, for example, has separation anxiety. She is also overprotective, which doesn't help Dani when she makes an important career decision.
To find a solution, she knocks on the doors of all kinds of spiritual healers, but they don't offer any hope. And there is a doctor who comes up with a wrong diagnosis that makes her feel as though she has a worrying physical condition. During one of these group therapy meets, she hooks up with a psychotherapist (Gustavo Vaz), and the film goes into romantic comedy mode, albeit briefly. But when he says something that she doesn't want to hear, it becomes too difficult for her to bear. It makes sense from his point of view, though. He is just like her, going through the same emotions.
But she is eventually forced to understand this situation because it brings up conflicted feelings not too different from the ones associated with her bond with her mother. These portions address the sacrifices one has to make to manage your troubles and the guilt that stems from them. It also cautions against being too dependent on meds. When Dani uses them more than necessary, her life spirals out of control. Fortunately, the film is careful not to get too serious. If it had, it would've jarringly deviated from the tone established in the beginning.
Losing My Marbles is a simple film that comes at the right time, even though it doesn't have anything to do with the pandemic. Its eccentric energy brings to mind the popular French comedy Amelie, especially in its use of amusing narrative devices to present some of its ideas. It wants us to accept who we are and not feel guilty or ashamed about being vulnerable. It not only wants us to go easy on ourselves but also those around us struggling with anxiety. For someone living in a country where seeking a therapist is frowned upon, a film like Losing My Marbles is much-needed.