When it comes to making a movie about mental health, it doesn’t take much to make it very difficult to relate to or to try and understand what those lives are like. There are also two aspects that have to be represented when telling this type of story. First is trying to understand the mind of the one or ones suffering from the condition themselves. The second is those who are directly affected by those who have the condition.
In Sean Nalaboff’s latest movie, Hard Sell, he attempts this difficult way of storytelling. Young Hardy is a young student in private school who is tasked with taking care of his alcoholic mother and maintain his school life and being the one in charge of caring for the household. When he is tasked with coming up with the money for a debt, he is at a loss for how to come up with the money.
He is soon introduced to Bo, a beautiful young woman who is staying at a shelter that Hardy is volunteering at. She immediately sees someone she may be able to use to get her to her next moment due to the fact that she is taking on life with no plan whatsoever. A chance moment has Hardy discover a way he may be able to use Bo as well as take advantage of the rich boys he goes to school with.
Hardy essentially rents Bo out to the boys for certain activities, none of which involve her in, sleeping with the boys. It isn’t long before Hardy discovers that Bo has family looking for because she has run away from a hospital where she was being treated for a nervous breakdown.
My problems with the film have nothing to do with the subject matter, it tries to attempt raise awareness too. My biggest issue, is with how much overwhelming issues young Hardy has to deal with at such a young age.
I find it difficult to believe that a high school student who is running a household with no income and a mother who needs a lot of attention, would be going to an expensive private school and also find time to volunteer on top of it.
I would also argue that the possibility of him encountering someone else who is in need of such similar care, is very unlikely.
While there may be factors unknown that makes these scenarios possible, that falls into the faulty story telling for not clarifying these situations.
While it is a very good idea, I feel that the writer/director tried much too hard to fill the story with too many tragic lifestyles in one film. To do mental illness films that make the viewer understand what goes into the life of all those involved one only needs to look at films like, Silver Linings Playbook and Infinitely Polar Bear. These are movies that are gripping as well as having the emotion that they intend to convey.
It is a noble effort from a young filmmaker and will hopefully serve as a learning step for him and I look forward to stronger work coming from him.