Dan and Margot

Dan and Margot

Cineplex Odeon
Saturday, Feb. 6
Rating: Four stars

Whether intentional or not, it’s a stroke of genius that co-directors Chloe Sosa-Sims and Jake Chirico initially mess with our minds with a line that suggests their debut feature might be a low-budget horror flick. Its protagonist, after all, is described as a woman who was once apparently stalked by a sinister stranger who doesn’t exist. It’s anything but a horror film, however, at least not in the Hollywood sense. Their portrait of Sosa-Sims’s 20-something longtime friend, who discovers she has schizophrenia, is unsettling in that it reminds us how mercilessly pop culture has stigmatized this complex mental illness. Yet it’s also a hopeful and enlightening meditation on the potential to overcome it. It helps that their film’s fearlessly introspective protagonist is an articulate, amusingly irreverent modern woman despite her self-acknowledged imperfection, with a supportive network of family and friends whose observations on the mystifying changes in her behaviour are compelling. While the films production values arent top-drawer, there are compensations, including input from Sarafin, an artist living with schizophrenia whose animated comic book-like panels propel her viewpoint, and some eye-filling swimming pool imagery, an artful metaphor for its subjects self-reflection.

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