DIFF 2017: Day 5

Unrest is a powerfully personal documentary about a woman suffering from a mysterious debilitating disease and her search for figuring out the root causes of her disorder while connecting with others suffering from the same disability. Jennifer Brea was studying at Harvard for a PhD and about to marry her husband Omar when suddenly her life changed after discovering she suffers from myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), commonly referred to as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which made doing everyday tasks practically impossible and forced her to be bedridden for most of the time. Through interviewing doctors, families, and others, primarily women, with the same condition, she learns that no one in the medical community really understands the disorder and patients are often stigmatized as making up the symptoms in their minds. The film is also very personal because it shows her at her darkest points in her life and explores her sometimes stressed relationship with her loving husband who must take care of her through her emotional and physical suffering. It is a heartbreaking documentary that provides an intimate look into the lives of those suffering severe disabilities and helps to raise awareness of such a tragic and misunderstood disease.

Buster’s Mal Heart is a very strange yet beautifully acted movie about an emotionally disturbed man as he descends into sheer madness and lives as a mountain man called Buster who survives by breaking into empty houses in Montana. The main character who was once known as Jonah had a relatively normal life working the night shift at a hotel while taking care of his wife and young daughter. Throughout the film, we meet mysterious figures, including a drifter played by the peculiar-looking DJ Qualls, that we are never really sure if they are real or figments of Jonah’s warped imagination. Eventually, we learn the reason why Jonah went completely mad and disappeared into the wilderness, but, again, it is not entirely clear whether the tragic event was his fault or not. Jonah is terrifically cast by the creepy-looking and brooding Rami Malek, best known for playing a similar character in the TV show Mr. Robot, who gives an amazing performance that makes the character’s insanity feel very real. The bizarre nature of the movie is definitely not for everyone, but I would recommend it just for the acting performances as well as the filmmaker’s brilliant ability to convey madness.

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