FOR MY SISTER REVIEW
By Lorry Kikta, Film Threat critic
Let me begin by saying that I feel very strongly about mental health and its de-stigmatization. I suffer from depression and anxiety and have for almost my whole life. I take medication for both of these issues. Some people would have a hard time admitting to that. Some people can’t even acknowledge that they are depressed. Some people feel a great source of shame because they are experiencing depression and don’t understand why. For My Sister, written and directed by Gabriel Rhenals, attempts to put a magnifying glass on mental health struggles in our country, and for that, I give it a round of applause.
Evie Sorella (Stephanie Maltez) lives in an apartment with her younger sister, Tris (Cristina De Fatima), who is about to start college. Everything is going well until the day after Tris’ college orientation when Evie receives a text from her friends saying that Tris wasn’t there. Then Tris begins staying in her room all the time and loses all interest in cleaning or eating healthy food, and is pretty much “in the Bell Jar,” so to speak. Evie is concerned because their mother committed suicide when they were younger. So she starts troubleshooting ways to help her sister. However, for whatever ridiculous reason, Evie is absolutely obsessed with “her record” and won’t go to a psychiatrist to ask for help for her sister.
Apparently, in the world of this film, medical records aren’t private? I don’t know, but anyway, Evie almost buys anti-depressants from a drug dealer rather than go to a psychiatrist. Eventually, she decides that her precious record is worth the risk and goes to a psychiatrist pretending to have Tris’ issues. When she gets an anti-depressant, Evie starts drugging her sister’s fast-food milkshakes in hopes that she will start feeling better.
Evie keeps going to more and more lengths to help Tris, some of which are completely absurd. I guess if it’s family, you’re willing to do anything to help them. Eventually, Evie ends up getting into trouble of her own, and things don’t look good for either of them. Thank God for REVEU, a company that uses nano-drones to travel to the near-past to show people exactly what happened to them during a certain period, or something like that. It’s a little fuzzy as to what the technology is fully capable of doing.
Somehow REVEU saves the day, and both sisters eventually end up doing well for themselves. Of course, there’s way more to it than that, but you have to watch the movie to find out what that means. The most important thing that For My Sister does is point out the problems with the mental health care system in this country and the misguided, bizarre opinions that people have about it.
I would say that the subject matter is the most essential thing about For My Sister. The execution of delivering this subject matter is sometimes off the mark. Without naming names, some of the acting is subpar, to be polite. Some scenarios demand way too much suspension of disbelief, and there’s not enough meat on the script to back them up. Keep in mind, though, that this is Rhenals’ first feature film, and almost no one’s first feature is a complete home run.
I think that the message of his film is important enough to have patience with some of the more frustrating aspects of it. Especially if you know anyone who thinks mental health problems aren’t “real” or that taking medication somehow makes you “weak,” show them this movie. It shows how anyone, anywhere, can suffer from depression or anxiety, or worse and that we as a society need to be more accepting of this fact. I think that we are further along in the fight than the movie portrays, but then again, I live in New York City, where our government officials generally aren’t completely insane, I mean aside from everyone’s favorite shirt-tucker, Rudy Giuliani (who thankfully isn’t in charge of anything I have to do with anymore). Rhenals hails from Florida, and we all know that their politics are wackadoo, especially considering that they have a “stand your ground” law, but that’s a whole other can of worms.
For My Sister is exceptionally relevant, especially right now, with the impending election. A lot of people’s mental health is precarious at best. The world, our country, in particular, is a stressful place. Some people are hardwired to deal with it better than others. Watch this movie to remember that just because someone doesn’t have the same emotional response to something as you do, it doesn’t make them crazy or less-than. More people than you could ever imagine are suffering from mental health issues, and now, more than ever, there needs to be compassion with and acceptance of this reality. These are all thoughts that For My Sister dredged up, so I think that’s a testament to the power that it holds, even though it may be a bit flawed.
For My Sister (2020)
Directed and Written: Gabriel Rhenals
Starring: Stephanie Maltez, Cristina De Fatima, Natalie Ramirez, William Guevara, Mireya Kilmon, Cris Mertens, etc.
Movie Score: 6/10