I need to get stars back into the sky, but I don’t know how.
A MOUTHFUL OF AIR – Review
Anyone who has ever suffered from depression or anxiety—and more specifically postpartum depression (PPD)—can probably attest that none of it manifests in the exact same manner from one person to another, though there are often similarities and overlap in symptoms and experiences.
Those who have suffered from PPD can also likely attest that there is a social stigma that comes with discussing PPD, and mental health as a whole, in our country.
What works with A MOUTHFUL OF AIR
A MOUTHFUL OF AIR is a story of a young mother, Julie Davis, whose PPD persists, despite her obvious love of her children and family, reiterating what we know about PPD (and other depression)—while external circumstances can contribute to exacerbated symptoms, they are far from the cause of PPD.
Amanda Seyfried (Julie Davis) and Finn Whittrock (Ethan) are brilliant in their roles. There isn't a moment in the film that Seyfried doesn't sell her desperate struggle to survive the depression that has taken hold of Julie. Whittrock's depiction of the ever-supportive husband walking on eggshells for fear of sending Julie over the edge, constantly feeling the need to have a watchful eye, yet not be too overbearing is spot on. They are so real it hurts.
While A MOUTHFUL OF AIR is a cautionary tale based on a novel by director/writer Amy Koppelman of her own experiences of PPD and motherhood, the movie barely scratches the surface of PPD. It's a depiction of one small facet of PPD, one person's experience.
The fact that this movie opens the doors to conversations about postpartum depression, anxiety, mental health stigma, and post-partum care is widely important. It's a conversation that should have been happening for decades, but at least someone finally decided it was a subject worth making a movie about, because PPD affects the mother, but also impacts everyone around her.
Of course, it's a perfunctory exploration of the topic; it can only be that in a film that is just under 2 hours. Argue the lack of deep dive into the topic ad nauseam, but the goal is to encourage honest, hard, raw conversations about PPD. A little PPD awareness goes a long way, and if even one life is saved, the movie has evoked change.
What doesn't work with A MOUTHFUL OF AIR
Without spoilers, there is one scene in the movie where Julie and her sister-in-law see each other for the first time after Julie attempts suicide. I truly felt as though the scene was a bit backward. Having been in both Julie's and the sister-in-law's shoes at one point in my life or another, I was angered by the sister-in-law's response and felt it inappropriate given the context had that been a real scenario.
If you suffer from PPD, anxiety, depression, the movie can be triggering. Just know that going in.
A MOUTHFUL OF AIR left me breathless.
I can count on one hand the number of movies I’ve watched that hit home the way A MOUTHFUL OF AIR did. The reason? The main character, Julie Davis, struggles with Postpartum Depression (PPD), and damn if there weren’t some scenes and conversations that were as if someone had been in my head 16 years ago.
Talk about a punch in the gut and the dredging up of feelings and emotions I thought had been pushed out or processed years ago.
Did you know that sleep deprivation is one of the top three triggers of PPD? Add that to a lack of support and persistent crying and you have the perfect storm for what as many as 40% of new mothers experience leading to symptoms manifesting as anxiety, fear, intrusive thoughts, fatigue, sadness, and feelings of hopelessness.
One of the first things the doctor said to me when we talked about my PPD was that there was a reason they use sleep deprivation techniques on POWs because it's one of the worst forms of torture—one that will force them to eventually wear down and crack and divulge whatever information the enemy was looking for.
As someone who has suffered from anxiety and depression all of my adult life—and suffered from severe PPD with my second pregnancy—I encourage everyone to see this movie to try to gain a deeper understanding of the struggles people with PPD face, how to support them, and how to begin to change the narrative.
Watch the trailer for A MOUTHFUL OF AIR
About A MOUTHFUL OF AIR
Julie Davis, warm, kind, loving to her husband and child, is a bestselling children’s author. While her books deal with unlocking childhood fears, she has yet to unlock the dark secret that has haunted her own life. But when her second child is born, events occur that bring that secret to the fore, and with it, a crushing, powerful battle to survive.
Director/Writer: Amy Koppelman
Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Finn Wittrock, Paul Giamatti, Amy Irving, Jennifer Carpenter, Michael Gaston
Runtime: 105 minutes
Trigger warnings: suicide, depression
In theatres October 29, limited release