Cinema: Corridors of Darkness

For years Hollywood has exploited mental illness as a grim dramatic device. In Other Voices, a cinema-verite documentary that contains almost too much verite to be endured, mental illness is not a part but the whole.

Filmed by David Sawyer over a period of 18 months at the Delaware Valley Mental Health Foundation, Voices traces the painful progress—and sometimes the even more painful regression —of five supposedly hopeless mental patients. It opens on a staff-patient touch-football game in which a doctor pokes one of the patients and says: "You'll get out of here when you're well and not before."

This sounds like barbaric,...

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