There is a brutal, beautiful honesty to Just In Case that takes your breath away. Approaching mental health in a far more authentic way in 14 minutes that many features ever could. An important and unmissable film.
How do you battle an invisible demon? How do you survive the war inside your own head? How do you tell your Dad you’re fighting for 30? ‘Just in Case’ explores the harsh reality of what it’s really like to live with bipolar disorder.
I don’t think there will ever be a clearer depiction of what it is like to live with bipolar disorder and what it is like to be a parent or a loved one of someone who is living with it. Where April Kelleys previous film Do This For Me showed the after effects of a loss of someone who lived with their disorder, her latest is entirely in the present.
At times Just In Case utterly devastates you with how honest and on point it is. We have a film that isn’t here to solve this character’s disorder like so many do. No, this film exists solely to highlight how important it is to have these conversations about a disorder that isn’t spoken enough about. If you are someone who lives with bipolar disorder, or really any mental disorder (while the focus is on bipolar, you can relate to Just In Case and its discussion) or if you are even someone who knows someone with it, there is the chance that this will be a difficult watch.
But it should also show you that you are seen. Kelley and Robinson-Ward have but a lot of effort into ensuring that you are represented on screen. For too long subjects like this have been trivalised on screen. Here there is a focus on that person and the pain that they are going through, you can see the care placed in the film to show the importance of the situation and the person. Rachel matters, and if her characters existence helps you in some form, be it feeling that you relate so that you can go to your doctor to be diagnosed or as said to feel seen in a way that you rarely get to see. Then Just In Case has done its job. It spreads an awareness that has been far too lacking and in a world as it states that people with bipolar disorder become 20 times more likely to take their own life than the rest of the population, this film not only becomes important, it actually becomes vital to spread awareness.
There is an authenticity to Just In Case that you will likely not see in many other films about mental health; we as people just want to tell people to keep their head up merely and soldier on when they tell us how they are struggling mentally. Do we ever actually sit down, listen? Certainly, when we see such scenes as we have here in the film, we get the glossy version, not a version that feels real. With Just In Case, we get that realness. At the beginning of this review, it said the film had a brutal quality; this is only how it feels like a real conversation between a father and a daughter about something real and important. There is a heap full of emotion present with the love and adoration they have for one another. Despite this there is an acceptance that pain is also there and that there is no easy way or just ridding it from their life.
Robinson-Ward uses the simplest but most effective filmmaking techniques in her film. A mixture of static two shots or close-ups brings us into the characters’ conversation, allowing the performances and script to hold us tight. So when she punctuates those static moments with the impactful sequences of what is really going on in Rachel’s mind, you cannot help but be moved from it. We are never bombarded with a constant use of those moments, they are wisely placed around the film and help us see how much Rachel as a character has to deal with.
This is the third short film written by April Kelley that has been covered here, and with each film, her talents as a writer only grow and grow. You sense how important these films are to her due to as aforementioned care that has been put in place to make every moment feel as authentic as humanly possible. You can look at the structure of this fantastically written piece and the truthfulness in each line of conversation, yet it is also the small moments that work so well. A prime example is when Philip Glenister’s Mark makes a mistake with her words about what he should be saying to his daughter. He catches himself and admonishes himself for his error. Kelley is even able to add in two analogies to provide us a look at what it is like for those living with bipolar disorder. These small lines and moments give us so much important insight.
On top of Kelley’s writing is her and Philip Glenister’s performances; both are sensational. However, what probably strikes, again is just relatable each character is, making their conversation at a service station all the more devastating and remarkable. Both get moments to tug at your soul with how they are trying to handle this situation.
Kelley is truly a force as an actress, someone with incredible power to bring this character to the screen. There is nowhere for her as a performer to hide with Rachel; everything is presented out on the table for the audience to see. Rachel’s vulnerability in telling her father everything is hard to watch; you feel like you are eavesdropping at the worst possible moment. Kelley gives us a character who knows that her journey may not end how she nor her family want, and she is rightfully scared by it. However, their determination is still present within her, and Kelley makes it a performance that is difficult to forget.
Glenister is also exceptional, playing a father who, at all times, is trying to take the pressures and fears off his daughter’s shoulders even as it eats away and breaks him on the inside. At times he almost cracks, but he firmly keeps it together for Rachel. He sees how she needs someone to talk to. As she says, she doesn’t want to feel like hard work, and he is a man who will make sure his daughter knows that no matter what, he is on her side.
It takes strength to make something like Just In Case, which makes this film a vital piece of cinema. Of course, it is a film with a heavy theme, despite this there is a charm to it. The main takeaway though is how this film allows those in similar positions or feel they might be, to feel seen. For that, this becomes an essential film for audiences.
Wednesday 30th March 2022 is Bipolar Day and if you need someone to talk to, contact Samaritans at 116 123 (UK) or email firstname.lastname@example.org (worldwide if in English). If you feel you are in crisis and need someone to talk to please find a list here of people to contact within your country.
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