Eye For Film >> Movies >> Unravelling Eve (2014) Film Review
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
There are a few stronger taboos in our society than a mother's failure to love her child, or her wish to do that child harm. For around three out of every 2,000 new mothers, however, postpartum psychosis makes this an abrupt reality. The stigma surrounding it means it's hardly ever spoken about. This makes it all the more shocking and disorientating for those affected, and it can leave them with very little support.
Unsurprisingly, none of the women contributing to this film wanted to be visible. As they talk, we see images of fluttering blinds, unravelling yarn, children's drawings, all softly lit as in a maternity catalogue. Calmly, one woman describes how she thought she had given birth to the Antichrist, thought that her son had little devils in his stomach which would come out at night.
The gulf between normative thinking and psychosis can be so huge that it's hard for those without experience of such problems to grasp where they might come from. This film doesn't try to provide explanations but simply invites us to take it on trust. The women are very straightforward, perhaps finding it easier to talk about if they don't get too emotional. It's firmly in the past for them, but they remember their distorted perceptions very clearly, and talk about feeling suicidal, experiencing the kind of quiet determination to destroy themselves that even skilled professionals find hard to spot.
Having been there and returned, these women are ambassadors of psychosis, reminding us that it's a problem which can afflict ordinary human beings in the course of their day to day lives - something against which rationality offers no defence. As post-partum psychosis is transitory, they have been able to rebuild their lives, but some have spent long periods separated from their children or unable to relate to them, making it hard for them to build healthy relationships as they recover. Rather than simply focusing on the sensational side of the illness, the film looks at how they have approached recovery, learned to connect with their children and found hope. As such it will be greatly reassuring for those going through similar experiences. As far as the general audience is concerned, it is a call for understanding which asks them to relate not to the experience itself but to those who have been through it. Its simple format and subdued approach suit this purpose well.Reviewed on: 09 Sep 2014
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