Published Feb 28, 2013Traditionally known as manic depressiveness, bipolar disorder presents as wildly vacillating mood swings that typically range between severe depression and hypomania. Statistics show between one- and four-percent of the population throughout the world is affected by the disorder, with varied speculation over cause and treatment.
Douglas Blush and Lisa Klein's documentary, Of Two Minds, is less concerned with statistics, numbers and facts than with demystifying and giving a face to bipolar disorder, following a handful of subjects throughout their daily life and using interviews as a window into their mental state. As such, it's not a cerebral or investigative documentary in any capacity, having a humble disposition that's more reality T.V. than cinematic.
Still, hearing the very candid stories of the main documentary subjects (Liz Spikol, Michael Peterson and Cheri Keating) is, in itself, compelling, regardless of the limitations and overly flat nature of the film. Peterson discusses his gradual self-denigration from married artist to a promiscuous, crack-addicted transvestite, engaging in destructive and risky behaviour while his wife went through his pockets at home.
Spikol's story is more introspective, talking about her realization of difference and ability to integrate it into her career as a journalist, eventually becoming a recognizable face for the disorder, hosting her own YouTube series.
More common and identifiable is the story of Cheri Keating, whose struggles with relationships and balancing her mood swings with medication is exacerbated by her inability to get on any sort of drug plan. Resultantly, while trying to function without episodes, the stress of money and repressing extreme behaviour in front her boyfriend heightens the challenge.
Various secondary stories pop up, giving some context on the tendency of suicide by those affected, but mostly Of Two Minds takes the optimistic route, suggesting that an irrepressible spirit is all one needs to conquer the issue.
It's a little glib and superficial, but given the less than insightful and profound package it comes in, it's to be expected. Regardless, the interviews do provide some insights on the subject, showing high functioning, intelligent and self-aware people, rather than mere victims. (MadPix)