Do you remember that feeling at the start of the summer holidays – no alarm clock, warm days, no school, time to dream… and in Lola’s case, a forced friendship with Zack. Lola is a teenager with a worried mother, time to fill, and a lot of pink stuff. Instructing a teenager to be productive and not mope suggests that things are not as they seem.
Add in upbeat Zack, and life appears to improve however Lola continues to have days where “it’s hard to get out of bed”, and not many people to whom she can tell the truth. Putting any hopes on hold, she attempts, at her own pace, to function.
Discussing illness, particularly mental health, can be a delicate premise in film. However, I can think of a few great examples involving both teenagers and health: Robert Redford’s Ordinary People (1980); John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club (1985); Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides (1999), with all its secrets and repression; The Fault in our Stars (2014), based on John Green’s book of the same name; and of course Little Miss Sunshine (2006).
Actor/director Ella Greenwood wrote the Faulty Roots screenplay as a way to accurately articulate her own experience of being a teenager with a mental illness. First-time director Greenwood managed to finance the film using crowd-funding, and attract a remarkably large crew.
The film was made with the goal to promote mental health awareness in teenagers, as well as show the way it affects relationships and life. The visual distraction of the jolly colours and deco was obviously used as a device to counteract the nature of the topic – depression. Or perhaps they were used as a symbol of how we use more appealing things in life to divert us from the less lovely things, the subjects we’re told to keep private.
Zack (Sani Thabo) and Lola (Ella Greenwood) successfully portray the whole range of teenage awkwardness and discomfort and leave us with the question: Is it enough to ride on another person’s enthusiasm rather than dealing with your own demons?
Produced by Greenwood’s company Broken Flames Productions, that focuses on female-centered stories. Look out for their next short film, Dreary Days, currently in production.
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