May 33rd (2004)

TV Movie   |    |  Drama

When Ella visits an osteopath to relieve physical trauma, the therapy triggers a devastating fragmentation of her already fragile personality.

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5 May 2004 | Primadonna
| Hypnotic, disturbing, brilliant
This extraordinary TV drama deserved more publicity and reviews. It is totally absorbing, beginning as the character attempts her escape from the life of abuse that is all she has known from childhood onwards.

This is the first drama I have ever seen about the phenomenon of dissociative identity disorder (DID), or multiple personality disorder. In the case of Ella Wilson, the character brilliantly played by Lia Williams, her mental problems stem from the cycle of brutal sexual abuse by a group of paedophiles, some of whom are relatives. When she visits an osteopath, Edward, his touch releases different personalities, and as he gradually understands the nature of the problem he intervenes to help her. But one of Ella's personalities is given to sudden acts of aggression, and Edward abruptly realizes his family may be at risk.

The immense problems suffered by a person with DID in finding anyone who will believe them, let alone help them, are agonizingly explored in this film. The acting, direction and camera work are superb, and Ella's repeated attempts at escaping from the cycle have a hypnotic effect. Not a happy film, but one to make you think for a long time afterwards.

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