“Second Spring” is a British drama that follows the life of Kathy (Cathy Naden) as she is diagnosed with a rare mental illness. Early on in the film Kathy becomes estranged from her husband Tim (Matthew Jure,) begins acting erratically, and leaves her marriage for a man she barely knows. Kathy begins exhibiting extremely poor impulse control and, most notably, struggles with feeling any empathy.
Though Kathy knows this, she seems to embrace her illness and slip into a delusion about the gravity of her condition.
The filmmaker, director Andy Kelleher, and screenwriter, Martin Herron I believe took quite a risk in showing Kathy’s illness in this way. The progression of Kathy’s poor decision making from the point of diagnosis was quite rapid, but I also believe the timeline is realistic; though not the happy and digestible story an audience always wants to see.
I even found myself angry with Kathy’s estranged husband Tim, why wasn’t he doing everything in his power to help her? Why did he allow her to make such poor choices knowing it wasn’t completely her? Why did he seem indifferent when she blacked out after spending a night in a park with a stranger? It was difficult to watch, but then I remembered some real-life statistics of women who are diagnosed with cancer.
A 2009 study found that women with cancer are six times more likely to be divorced or separated than a man with a similar diagnosis. Although it is hard to face the reality of serious conditions, and that the words in sickness and health can be just that, words, when two people get married, I still found the downward spiral devastating and I empathized with Kathy even though I cringed at some of the things that she said and did.
The film itself is quite beautiful, and the cinematography, by DP Jonas Mortenson, is a gem. The color palette was lovely, and I was quite impressed later on when I learned this piece was actually shot on Fujifilm. The difference from shooting on digital was instantly noticeable. I miss the days when movies were shot on film and this took me way back, the film gave off a soft contrast and realistic feel that we do not see anymore in modern cinema, it was a real treat.
In terms of the pacing, the film did feel slow and plodding and I would have liked to see more dialogue at points as it tended to become stiff. The edit left something to be desired as my attention slipped in many places. That being said the film had shades of “Still Alice” (2014,) and “Terms of Endearment” (1983) and I found the lead actress, Cathy Naden, to be quite refreshing. She played Kathy with vulnerability and subtlety, her performance reminded me a bit of Susan Sarandon’s in “Stepmom” (1998.)
Though this film is a bit unsettling and could use a final pass through edit, mental illness can be very difficult to capture on screen, and there are good things to be discovered.
Check out the rain jacket in the trailer too.
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