Every once in a while a movie comes along that is so raw and real it stays with you for days. A Mouthful of Air is one of those films. I could not shake the uneasiness I felt after viewing this film. It really brings to light a struggle so many women (mostly silently) have those first few weeks after having a baby. Wanting to appear on the surface that they've got it all together while inside they're drowning. In conjunction with the film's at-home release I was invited to attend a virtual town hall to discuss postpartum depression and anxiety, along with my review I am also including a few tidbits from our discussion as well.
Disclaimer: I was provided access to A Mouthful of Air free for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
A Mouthful of Air Review + Town Hall Discussion
A Mouthful of Air | Review
Warning: This review contain references that may be viewed as spoilers.
A Mouthful of Air is a film that stays with you.
Amanda Seyfried gives a haunting performance as Julie, a successful children's book author who is suffering from depression and anxiety.
Viewers follow her as she navigates being a first time mom who is struggling to find her footing even with a supportive family and husband.
The movie stays mostly in real time but we are given a few flashbacks to Julie's childhood and some flash forward glimpses.
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A Mouthful of Air is a Gut Punch
This film is tough to watch.
The editing here is phenomenal in the sense that the quick cut aways really intensify Julie's anxiety. In one particular scene she is stressed at the grocery store, I had to get up from my seat and walk around a bit to shake off the anxiety I was feeling while watching Julie struggle to pick between brands and flavors of water.
There is a constant looming sense of dread throughout this entire film and Amanda does a brilliant job at pushing Julie's fears and anxiety onto the viewer. Her eyes tell Julie's story.
A Mouthful of Air is Not a PSA, but is a Cautionary Tale
A Mouthful of Air does not have all of the answers, nor does it claim to.
Based off of the synopsis for the film, as a viewer I expected Julie to have an 'aha moment'. We're told Julie is in a battle to unlock a dark secret yet it is never truly revealed what secret that is, or if she ever actually unlocked it.
A Mouthful of Air tries hard to show that Julie had "it all"; a doting husband who truly loves and cares for her, a mother that is willing to babysit whenever needed so Julie can get a break and a successful career. This is all to show that any one can suffer from postpartum depression and anxiety, no matter how good they seem to have got it.
That being said, there were strange flashbacks to Julie's childhood that made an attempt at referencing that "dark childhood secret" but they're quick, chaotic and confusing.
From these flashbacks I believe the viewer is supposed to realize that the dark secret involves her father. But to what extent? It is very unclear.
In these flashbacks I don't know if I, as a viewer, am meant to draw the conclusion that her father was verbally abusive, physically abusive, sexually abusive or unfaithful to her mother (there's an odd scene with him and an ice cream seller).
I also did not like that there needed to be this illusive childhood secret because if postpartum depression and anxiety can rear it's ugly head on anyone, why does Julie, who "has it all" need this twisted relationship with her father?
This unnecessary plot device doesn't get fully fleshed out and feels like something that could have been cut from the film, as Julie didn't need a scapegoat to suffer the way she was, I thought that was the whole point of driving home the fact that she "had it all".
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Amanda Gives a Hauntingly Beautiful Performance
Amanda carries this film in an almost one-woman show kind of way.
Her performance is raw and real and she was a great choice for this role.
A Mouthful of Air is available on digital platforms now.
A Mouthful of Air | Virtual Town Hall
I was recently invited to attend a virtual town hall discussion about post partum depression and anxiety in conjunction with the home release of A Mouthful of Air.
It was eye opening to hear from other women in the blogging field share their stories and struggles with depression and anxiety after having their baby/babies.
As the conversations progressed it solidified the need for a film like A Mouthful of Air.
This film allows women to see that they're not alone in feeling this way and if they previously suffered quietly, hopefully a film like this will give them the strength to talk to someone.
"Often times the first symptoms are not even sadness. It's fatigue. It's feeling like, 'what was I thinking?'"
During the discussion director, Amy Koppelman pointed to a specific memory of her hanging a quilt above her son's crib and taking it down each night out of fear of it falling on him during the night. This was just one way her anxiety after her son was born presented itself.
Her sharing this really spoke to me because I was gifted a beautiful bedding set at my first born's baby shower and included in the set was a quilt. Everything we read as soon-to-be-parents says not to give blankets or quilts to babies and I thought a great way to show-off this quilt would be to hang it above the crib as decoration. But I had a fear (most likely irrational) that it would fall down, off of the wall and onto the baby in the middle of the night. So what did my husband do? He nailed it to the wall, that thing didn't go anywhere.
"The happy ending is for the viewer, is for the mother watching the movie realizing she's not a freak." - Director, Amy Koppelman
Having such an open chat that also included an Academy Award nominee was super interesting to me, I think we as a society can't help but feel celebrities don't have to worry about the same things that way we (as "normal" people) do and that is just not true.
I applaud both Amanda and Amy for being so open during the Town Hall and when asked what she does for selfceare, Amanda said to simply, "Give yourself a chance to just be human beings as well. We are mothers first and foremost but we are also human beings." and I think this is such great advice.
A Mouthful of Air is available now on Digital and On-Demand on Prime, iTunes, Vudu, DirecTV & Comcast.