Eleanor Riese a patient in the psychiatric unit of a San Francisco hospital knows that the medication she is being given is making her worse. She manages to request a lawyer and Colette Hughes takes on the case, which turns out to be an uphill legal battle to improve treatment for mental patients by having consent to the drugs they are given.
In all honesty I thought a film on this subject matter would have been given a much bigger release and more around it. Considering the outcome of this case really did change things in the US. I hadn’t heard of the film until coming across it on Amazon Video, but now having watched the film I guess I can understand that it was not really done in the best possible way. While it did have two amazing leading actresses in Hilary Swank and Helena Bonham Carter and Jeffrey Tambor offering support the film as a whole was missing something. I am not entirely sure what that something was but at times it just felt empty.
It is tough to watch in the beginning but I always feel that way when watching scenes in mental hospitals with the patients. Hopefully it is not quite the same now, but I know the US has always had a very different view to other countries on mental health. Within films these hospitals, the nurses and doctors are never shown in a good manner. This was no different set in the 80s and Elenor Riese really showing that she could help make a difference by speaking out. She had kept track of her medication and the effects it then had on her.
The side effects from some of the medication was not good and she was certainly not the only one who ended up in a worse state because of the doctors and nurses. The fight put up by Colette Hughes and Mort Cohen really was going to make a difference. As well as the legal battle and court case the film focused on the friendship between the two women and how Eleanor made a true difference on Colette’s life helping her to really see what was important and what she needed to spend more time on and who with.
It was well acted from Helena Bonham Carter who had the tough task of being Eleanor and having to go through the distressing scenes. Hilary Swank was her usual brilliant self, just in case you weren’t aware I am a very big fan of hers. Jeffrey Tambor was equally good as well, although he did not have as much screen time as the two women. Other than those three no one else was massively memorable. Maybe that is one of the reasons this film did not find a big release? It certainly was straight to Amazon for the UK, I am not sure if it received any cinematic release in different countries? I will be interested to know your thoughts on this one if you have seen it? I just thought a film based on a true story of a historical and groundbreaking case could have been a much bigger film.