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First, the Recap:
Social or emotional anxiety. A steady, seemingly unending disquiet within yourself that can be a complete and all-consuming hindrance to living a fulfilled and worry-free existence. Functioning on certain levels remains intact, but there’s still a part of you that won’t quite let go of the trepidations nagging within. At this point, the question soon becomes–how do you choose to manage it? For Margaret (Rebecca De Ornelas), this inner turmoil plagues her daily routine. Having initially made the decision to film private video journals to document her state of mind, twice weekly visits to a therapist (Richard Brundage) seem only to yield limited results. Retreating into the relative safety of her own video introspections, Margaret maintains limited contact with others, even best friend Cass (Masha King).
However, a rather drastic, unanticipated change occurs when Margaret’s journals are discovered and viewed by an equally troubled teenager, Vee (Phoebe Allegra), who fesses up to the deed but then ends up becoming a new priority in Margaret’s life. Finding common ground in their respective life circumstances, the two bond and soon share the passion for video journaling. Cass soon interjects herself into the mix, also finding the enigma of video journaling to be more insightful and therapeutic than she ever expected. As these three lives begin to interact and intersect more and more, it becomes apparent that each of them have been battling themselves and others to varying degrees, and the healing process so longed for, or needed and never acknowledged, begins to unfold.
Next, my Mind:
Mental health issues are no laughing matter. For all the films out there that seek to overtly mock those afflicted by them, there needs to be more efforts such as this one from writer/director/producer/cinematographer/editor Michael DiBiasio, who very much humanizes social/emotional anxiety plus the stigmas about it, and delivers a poignant, moving, and raw picture of the daily struggle as seen through the eyes of the narrative’s lead characters. While some might consider this perspective a slow burn, the “speaking to the camera” presentation for many segments of this feature effort is actually what consistently helps maintain the viewer’s sense of connection and engagement to the characters and their plights. Unhindered by background activity or other potentially distracting elements, the honest, uninhibited, and painfully heartfelt video journal entries paint a vivid portrait of inner strife and how these women experience the effects of it.
De Ornelas is a total gem in her portrayal of Margaret, emoting incredibly well and having to navigate an ocean of ever-fluctuating emotions as she showcases the myriad of thoughts, actions, and hesitations the character encounters while trying to find a newly desired sense of normalcy and freedom from her apprehensiveness. De Ornelas does a fantastic job in the journal entries, keeping things very real and grounded. The same can be said for Allegra, whose Vee starts out on rocky ground with Margaret before revealing the physical and emotional pain she herself is abiding in, which Allegra also brings out to riveting effect through her own video journal sequences and talks with a new best friend. The cute and perky King shines as well, reminding this reviewer of Anna Kendrick, presenting Cass as a confident, strong, and fearless woman who ends up quite potently discovering things about her own inner needs when finally succumbing to trying the video journaling herself. Her loyalty to Margaret plus her boldness and ultimate acceptance of Vee is a joy to watch.
A strong supporting cast, including the aforementioned Brundage, rounds things out and in total, “The Videoblogs”, with its mental health awareness message at the forefront, should become one that is required viewing for not only those who currently suffer a mental health issue, but also for everyone at large who wants a sincere, potent, and deeply human film that’s willing to illustrate caring realities instead of derision and contempt.
As always, this is all for your consideration and comment. Until next time, thank you for reading!