I just discovered this movie on Netflix. As I always say, I don’t get out too often, so most of you may have already seen this film. Not only do I like indie films, but I especially keep an eye out for ones that explore aspects of mental illness.
This particular film caught my eye because it qualifies as:
- a “buddy flick” – and I love those, and
- a movie dealing with characters who suffer from some sort of metal illness.
The Road Within is about three young people who don’t know each other, but they all escape from the same wellness center (I’m trying not to use ‘psych ward’). The main character, Vincent, suffers from Tourette syndrome; Marie is anorexic; and Alex, who they pick up at the last minute, has severe OCD. So severe that he constantly wears latex gloves and opens and shuts car doors exactly five times before entering.
They steal/borrow Vincent’s father’s Mercedes and head for the coast to spread Vincent’s mom’s ashes. Along the way they encounter adventures and moments of self-discovery and heartfelt sharing.
It’s not the typical buddy-movie formula: these characters are deep and they’re hurting. They just want and need some help and someone to love and understand them.
I didn’t realize this before watching the movie, but I didn’t know that anorexia was a disease of the mind. I was ignorant like most people probably are.
Alex tells his new friends that his OCD keeps him trapped inside a world of rituals that he cannot escape. He even pays a gas station attendant to chase him out of the store to make it look like Alex ran away without paying. He later confesses to his friends that he did this “to look cool” and to feel normal for a change.
Vincent explains that his Tourette syndrome is like a sneeze: you can’t stop the tics and outbursts of vulgarity no matter how hard you try.
One moving scene in the film shows Vincent’s dad confessing to the boy’s therapist where he went wrong:
It’s awful to say, but I was embarrassed by him… I wanted a different boy. And he knew it. He could see it on my face.
This film doesn’t offer any answers or self-help advice. It’s just a movie about three individuals who are not like the majority of society and how they learn to cope with and eventually rely on each other. I highly recommend it.