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That Way Madness Lies Movie Review

The System Is Unhealthy

America doesn't deal well with the never-ending problem of its mentally ill. It's doubtful that any country does a great job with it, but hopefully some are doing a bit better. We used to shove them all into institutions where they would languish in filth and abuse for the rest of their lives. It's now better than that, but it remains a major failure as a whole.

Sandra Luckow's documentary "That Way Madness Lies" is about her personal experience with the mental health system in America. Specifically, it's about her brother, Duanne, and his battle with his own personal demons. There are no "bad guys" here, other than the failing system.

Growing up, Duanne was a bright kid who loved to make films and star in them. He would always play the intrepid and brave hero who got the girl. In real life, he wasn't involved in any relationships with girls, presumably because of shyness.

Through interviews with his friends while growing up, we learn that Duanne was a brilliant mechanic. His father and grandfather were also talented mechanics, but he ended up surpassing them both. This led to him running a successful business by himself.

At 46, he developed late-onset paranoid schizophrenia and his life began to crumble. Ms. Luckow runs through the details as she gets ever more involved in her brother's troubles. While filming her documentary she becomes involved in trying to help him by applying to be the conservator of his estate in order to protect him. He vehemently opposes this idea, which sets them up in an adversarial relationship that leads to him threatening to murder her.

Nothing turns out particularly well, except perhaps partially at the end when Ms. Luckow loses touch with her brother after he leaves the latest mental facility. At that point they are on seemingly friendly terms and he seems relatively normal, but he wants nothing to do with her and cuts off all communications with her. You get the feeling that the story isn't over even though the film is.


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