In ”Good Side of Bad (2023)” we enter in the life of Florence who suffers from from schizophrenia. The movie opens with Florence jumping off a bridge. She is being pursued by hooded men. Sarah (Jules Bruff) goes to her “little” sister in the hospital. She’s relieved that Florence made it this time. Sarah takes Florence in. Both are scared. Florence is afraid of the hooded men who chase her. Sarah is afraid for her little sister whom she raised. Both are leery of the arrangement. The tension is constant and fear is always lurking. Sarah’s call to her brother Peter, Alex Quijano, is met with indifference He’s lived it all before. Peter tells their mother whose dementia now blunts her reaction to the severity of her youngest daughter’s plight. It’s Sarah who takes on the burden and Bruff through her compassionate portrayal, assures the audience that Florence is in good hands.
An admission to the psychiatric hospital to calm Florence’s fears leaves her lonely. She befriends and falls in love with for a young patient who without warning commits suicide. A terrified Florence is discharged to her sister’s care. The two are living together when Florence again attempts suicide.
Six months later Florence is visited by her sister and brother. Mom has passed on but the union among the three family members is strong.
The filmmakers want us to learn up front and center what this disease is. How it hurts and never heals. It’s a wound that comes back at any time. “Tikkun Olam” is a Hebrew saying that means to repair the world. Writer-director Althea Root uses her art to make the world a better place which allows the audience to experience the torture and burden of living with the illness but reach a point to exhale. “Good Side of Bad” is part docudrama and just like the illness changes from seeing the world through a cracked mirror and back to reality at the drop of a hat. Since the movie follows the trail of the illness, its structure is unusual. Root shows us a lot of what it’s like to be Florence and her family. The audience burden starts at the beginning lasts to the end.
Although Florence is the movie’s protagonist, Sarah is the hero. She makes the good side happen. Bruff’s performance is excellent. Her expression of caring towers over the story and allows the audience to witness Florence’s disease. Without her portrayal, we would be alone and confused. She provides the audience a shield to endure and the story drives on. She gives the story it’s tender heart and makes us feel that Florence will make it through this illness to lead a useful life.
See this movie with your family and, especially, your children. At the end, you will love them more and, hopefully, make more room for them in your heart.
“Good Side of Bad” premiered at The Festival of Cinema New York City, August 11, 2023.