The Videoblogs (2016) – By Misty Layne


I was telling my therapist about this film today, trying to explain how it struck a chord (without being able to remember the phrase “struck a chord”) and then we both laughed hysterically at the idea of either of us making a vlog, because it would be completely disjointed stream-of-consciousness ramblings, lol. It’s probably far wiser for me to stick to my old-fashioned paper journals and bold-stroke pens. Because that’s what THE VIDEOBLOGS is about – a young woman whose thing really isn’t journalling but because her therapist keeps insisting that journalling would be good for her, decides to keep a videblog for herself. Which is all well and good until the day when she accidentally leaves her laptop behind at a restaurant and it’s found by an even younger woman who ends up watching all of her vlogs. Instead of being upset (well, after initially being upset), Margaret decides to talk with the younger Vee because Vee says Margaret’s videos really struck a chord with her. Yeah, turns out despite how isolating depression feels, you really aren’t the only one out there drowning. If you can grasp a hand, like Vee does with Margaret in this film, not only might you make it through to the other side, but your life might take some very interesting twists and turns… 🙂

In the case of Margaret and Vee, Vee grasps on to Marg’s hand (metaphorically speaking) because while Marg is in (and has been in) therapy, Vee is still in school and living with her abusive mother with seemingly hopeless options available. But Marg is able to offer advice to Vee (and then friendship, etc), and in exchange, Marg becomes happier herself. Pretty cool how that works, huh? Then there’s Marg’s friend, Cass, who’s kind of on the outskirts of the whole thing, appearing pretty lost herself but in a decidely more…unkind and aggravating way? I wasn’t a huge fan of Cass, tbh. She was kind of selfish and kind of unkind. She DID try her best to understand what Marg was going through though, so I will give her credit for that – for not giving up on her friend. Anyway, the lot of them eventually all start creating vlogs and through us, the audience, viewing them the story evolves.

THE VIDEOBLOGS is an entirely honest, entirely truthful and accurate depiction of depression (says the girl who’s been there, done that, got the t-shirt…and the mug…and the keychain…and ya know what? all the souvenirs. I have them ALL, lol). Hence, why it struck a chord with me. It wasn’t dramatically played – sometimes mental illness IS dramatic, sometimes it’s just…quiet – and I liked that because I feel that too often we get films that are (perhaps also accurate but) more focused on the “attention grabbing” mental illnesses like BPD or the other BPD or schizophrenia, etc. This was just – “I don’t feel well. Why? I don’t know. I feel worthless. And alone. And I hate that I want to cry and stare at the ceiling because why, dammit??” I really loved this film.

And while I liked all the actresses in this film (also woman-led and diverse cast? Um, yes please!), Phoebe Allegra as Vee was my favorite (I swear it’s not just because she’s from Alabama too!). She broke my heart a little bit with her vulnerability and anger and feeling of being trapped. It can be hard to portray a plethora of emotions at once for some, but she handled herself with aplomb.

And the final reason I love this film? They’ve partnered with multiple mental health organizations around the country to host screenings of the film followed by panel discussions about the film and its message about mental health and trying to fight stigma around mental health issues. I used to do this same thing with a non-profit I worked with – a documentary on eating disorders – and this…this can change lives. Their project also has tried to help foster the voices of the next generation of filmmakers who want to openly approach mental health issues through film with their Videoblogs Dialogues contest, for which the winner was announced on July 7th. The contest was open to filmmakers between the ages of 18 and 24 who wanted to make a short film about mental health issues. All of this is GOOD. Much good.

Whether you’re feeling sad, lost, alone, off, or something in between, or are just plain happy and yourself, visit THE VIDEOBLOGS website to find out how you can see the film and get in touch with the creators. Help change the conversation about mental health so we can change how mental health is treated!