Now, let's get to my neck of the woods, the burdensome mentally ill brother in Love Actually who fucks up his sister's deal with a guy. It was a bit of a gut punch, I will admit, with that first scene of him in his permanent acute care residency in that facility. At least he's getting good UK health care. At the end of the movie almost everyone has a happily ever after at the airport, except this poor woman with this pain-in-the-ass crazy brother, we don't see her at the airport at all.
Wellll, it's true family members make sacrifices for their disabled siblings or kids or parents all the time. I auditioned for a job that featured a mother who basically gave up her own life to care for her son who was afflicted with cerebral palsy. The dad took a powder when he saw what he was in for, and it was just her and whatever caregivers, which were quite few, and whatever means to pay for them that paid for them. That shit happens. That's life.
I can compare the portrayal of this potentially violent brother to the hilarious portrayal of Van Gogh in a home improvement store ad that appeared like a year ago for some time. First we see Leonardo Da Vince bring the funny somehow, I forget how. Then I think it's Rembrandt's turn, with maybe a self portrait. Then they show Van Gogh with wide eyes and a goofy smile on his face crazily talking to a bird in the window. That was another gut punch of an irreverent portrayal of an artist and all he went through. An artist that I have no small personal affinity for.
But, you know what. Fuck all that identity politics and being sensitive to people like me all the time. I've said it before in this space, and I'll say it again: the problem I have with stigma is not insensitive portrayals of the mentally ill in any form of art. The biggest problem with stigma for me personally comes from family members, friends, psychiatrists, social workers, therapists- anyone I actually depend on for support letting me down somehow. Those kinds of people can potentially do far worse damage than any insensitive portrayal of people like me in movies, TV shows, comic books, etc.
I stand on the side of free artistic expression over people artistically tiptoeing around whatever they are supposed to tiptoe around on my behalf. Sure, someone can take things too far, but I'll be the personal judge of when that happens, I don't want people saying that they represent me making those decisions on my behalf with the threat of boycotts or online outrage or what have you.
A far as a total piece-of-shit portrayal of the mentally ill in a movie, I have never seen a film that topped King of Hearts. It was made in Belgium in the '60s, and it takes the fucking cake, hands down. When I was a kid I would see it show at the arthouse revival cinema in town with glowing blurbs about how the crazy people are not as mad as the war around them, that they ultimately reject etc etc. It got three and a half stars in the Maltin movie guide, so maybe it's just me....
Apparently the mentally ill people in this movie in this war-torn French Belgian town all learned how to pantomime circus performers or musicians or ballerinas, and the sympathetic portrayal of these gentle souls consisted of them gleefully miming their act in front of whatever audience gathered before them. Fuuuck me! I saw this movie at the absolute lowest point in my life, and I tell you, it's a good thing there were no guns in the house of the friend whose house I saw it at, because I might not be writing this today if there were any.
As far as romantic comedies with some drama thrown in, Love Actually is not too bad, though I'm no expert on the genre. I think they have at least tossed out the tired "they hate each other until they realize that they're madly in love with each other" bullshit in these kinds of movies that can really fuck with someone like me, if I was so inclined to take that kind of shit to heart.
If I had some girly-girl girlfriend who went in for that kind of stuff, this one would be okay for me to watch again. If someone is willing to sit with me through Once Upon a Time In the West or Seven Samurai as I watch them for the umpteenth millionth time, I could watch something like Love Actually and get into it. Hell, I could binge watch Big Bang Theory or Two Broke Girls if someone were cute enough. Though I sure as hell wouldn't make her pause these shows when I went to the crapper or made myself a sandwich.