This film is a stand out performance by Jessica Lange, who at this point in time appears in some films as the neurotic mother(as in "Prozac nation"), which covers the issue of clinical depression in a rather convoluted manner.
This film details actress Frances Farmer's life, early success, stage and screen, her contempt for Hollywood superficiality and the eventual downward spiral f her career, as well as her sanity.
The scenes with esteemed NY playwright Clifford Odets are interesting, well portrayed by Jeffrey DeMunn. Lange looks lovely, fragile yet tough, a defiant and independent spirit, especially considering this was the era of 1930's and 1940's.
Her mother is well-portrayed by the rather schizoid Kim Stanley ("Séance for Wet Afternoon'). Ms. Stanley portrays a narcissistic, controlling and even malevolent force in Frances' life.
When Frances tires of Hollywood facade and "glamour", she states to her mother she just wants to live her own life, quietly, and rejects Hollywood. This seemed to be the mechanism which enraged her mother, and eventually causes her to have Frances committed to the Western Asylum in Washington State.
Many books have been written (although the supposed lobotomy issue has been debunked), but clearly Frances underwent insulin and other barbaric treatments while committed to the barbaric asylum. Lange is very believable here, disheveled, angry, but also edgy and raw. And not necessarily "in the wrong" despite American society and it treatment of emotionally disturbed inmates at the time.
In a disturbing scene with psychiatrist, "Dr. Symington" it is evident at the time that railroading patients into involuntary commitment was all too commonplace. Frances may have been a common bipolar patient who would have responded to talk therapy, but this was never given a chance. Indeed, she was never given a chance.
The book "Will There Really be a Morning?" is also a good reference for those interested in delving into Frances Farmer's biography. While some have mentioned this film doesn't accurately portray the story, I think overall the audience gets a clear sense of the despair, longing and passion which were interwoven in Miss Farmer's life, and Jessica Lange does an excellent portrayal here. Highly recommended. 9/10.
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