13 July 2010 | robert-temple-1
Very Good Multiple Personality Drama
Gail O'Grady, a very compelling actress best known for her countless appearances in American television series, plays the leads in this strange and fascinating television feature film. I say leads rather than lead because she plays Karen, Emily, and Cindy, all of whom are the same person. Or at least, they inhabit the same body. However, she/they is/are not someone/people who turn violent when switching personality, as is so often the case. In this story, events so traumatic and painful that total amnesia results cause Cindy first to become Emily and then Emily to become Karen. None of these three personalities is violent. They are all quiet, pleasant, but suffering. Multiple personality cases are rare, but they are undoubtedly genuine. Anyone doubting this should read Professor Ernest Hilgard's classic book DIVIDED CONSCIOUSNESS (1977). O'Grady manages the difficult feat of being convincing in portraying all of this, and the states of confusion and anguish which accompany the transitions and the amnesic fugue states. It is very difficult to cure multiple personality cases, and the generally favoured approach is an attempt to fuse them, although partial fusion is usually considered sufficient when there are too many personalities, so that one or two sometimes get left out. Dual personality cases are the most common, because there are only two, and the more personalities there are, the rarer the case. Certainly there are instances of seven or more. Treatment is made difficult because one or more of the alternative personalities is convinced that it will be 'killed' by the treatment, so it sabotages it. Only a handful of extremely skilled and knowledgeable therapists are able to deal with these cases. Most psychiatrists are absolutely hopeless and totally helpless when faced with such a case. In this film, we see a psychiatrist talking twice briefly to Karen/Emily/Cindy, but that can hardly be described as treatment. Many lurking secrets of the past come out as this story progresses, and we eventually learn why Cindy turned into Emily and Emily turned into Karen to try to get away from intolerable stress involving murder and major emotional trauma. Tim Guinee is very good as the man who loves Karen (the latest model) and is on the verge of marrying her when a man turns up who calls her Emily and claims that he is her ex-husband, played creepily by Dennis Boutsikaris (and the creepiness is later shown to be justified). Monica Bugajski does very well as the young daughter of Emily whom Karen has forgotten, but with whom she comes together again. This naturally leads to all kinds of emotional turmoil and distress. David Burton Morris did a very good job of directing this film, and the script by David Chisholm is written very carefully to avoid excesses and lack of conviction, so that he must have done his research. This film is only available on VHS, not on DVD.