• R, 2 hr.
  • Drama
  • Directed By:
    Sandra Nettelbeck
    In Theaters:
    Jul 30, 2010 Limited
    On DVD:
    Aug 10, 2010
  • E-1 Entertainment
  • Helen
    2 minutes 8 seconds
    Added: Jul 16, 2010


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Helen Reviews

Page 1 of 3
Cynthia S

Super Reviewer

August 10, 2013
A very depressing movie about deep depression, as expected. These kinds of movies are never fun to watch....Ashley Judd did a very convincing job.
Red L

Super Reviewer

June 5, 2012
Depression is a depressing subject. As such, this is a depressing movie. The actors did a good job, and the music was outstanding.
Chris G

Super Reviewer

September 14, 2010
Helen (Ashley Judd) is an accomplished music professor. She has a wonderful daughter (Alexia Fast). She has a great marriage to her lawyer husband (Goran Visnjic). Even with all of these things going for Helen, she feels like her life is spinning out of control. At first it's a chore to get out of bed. That soon turns to it becoming a chore to be alive at all. As Helen crumbles so does her life. She loses her wonderful job. Her ex-husband refuses her a chance to see her daughter. The relationship with her husband crumbles. She is in a perpetual spiral with no way to hit the brakes, allowing everything to go down the drain. The only thing that seems to help is a former student (Lauren Lee Smith) who knows what Helen is going through. She helps her get through the bad times unlike anyone else in her life.

The film is a very poignant piece displaying the way depression can literally eat away someones life like a cancer. The film is a bleak excursion so don't expect anything light hearted. There is no comic relief in this film. Ashley Judd delivers a high caliber performance as the title character and gets wrapped into the gray cocoon that is Helen's life. She pulls off a very good performance that many people have overlooked because this film didn't get to much exposure upon its release.

Now while I thought the film was well acted, the story comes up short in many departments. Once again i have to go to predictability and cliched. What was a fresh piece that really hasn't been touched before is tarnished by many of those old age Hollywood throw ins that we can see coming a mile away, particularly the ending. There's also the treatment that Helen gets as she declines into the abyss. This is a woman who is clinically depressed and ready to end it all at any moment, yet throughout the film you never see her talk to a psychiatrist once. There's a woman in a lab coat that comes off more like a bitch than a therapist. Amazingly the only treatment they really push is shock therapy. We know that did R.P. McMurphy good. I would have been happy with a scene where Helen tells a therapist to go to hell instead of leaving that part of treatment out all together. For me that was a big point where the film stumbles on itself.

As a whole Helen is a middle of the road film. There's some great things about it and some failures, too. It's not a fun experience for sure and it does deliver an emotional punch.
Deb S

Super Reviewer

January 16, 2011
"I was prepared to fight. I wasn't prepared to lose" -Helen

Ashley Judd provides a strong performance as "Helen" a loving wife, mother, talented musician, and professor who becomes strangled by severe depression. Her mental illness progresses over a period of time and is portrayed in quite a realist way...showing the isolation that she imposes on herself.

"You remind me of who I used to be" -Helen
April 20, 2014
I think the best part about this movie is the mostly accurate portrayal of major depression. There is nothing that anyone else can do about it and it requires medical attention. The rest of the movie was pretty good.
January 20, 2014
This movie could have been much better, it drags along to the point one almost is bored, just waiting for something to happen. When things do finally happen, such as the actual breakdown scenes, the breakdown of Helen, one finally hopes for more storyline, more substance. It just never comes. The movie is 'agonizingly slow'. as another person said here. Goran Visnjic was excellent as the husband who bears the burden of his wife's illness. Ashley Judd just barely makes it in portraying a woman with serious illness. I call it poor direction by Sandra Bettelbeck.
April 26, 2013
Helen (Sandra Nettlebeck, 2009)

Ashley Judd is singularly excellent at playing people who are about to break down, in the process of breaking down, or have just broken down. I'm not sure what, if anything, that says about Ms. Judd's personal life, but it does make many of her performances schadenfreude-style treats when consumed on the big screen. And the first thirty-odd minutes of Sandra Nettlebeck's Helen are described perfectly by this. Unfortunately, the movie runs two hours.

Plot: Helen (Judd) and David (ER's Goran Visnjic) are a seemingly happy couple whose life couldn't be better-that is, until Helen begins changing. It's not much of a spoiler to tell you that she's sliding into depression (like I said, this stage of the film is its first quarter, give or take). And we're not talking rainy-day blues here, we're talking crippling, life-threatening depression. She eventually hits bottom and deserts her family-and her doctor-to bond with Mathilde (Lie with Me's Lauren Lee Smith), a similarly-affected former student of hers, while David tries to figure out what went wrong and how to make it better.

It's impossible to get into the meat of why the last three-quarters of the movie don't work without what some may consider spoilers, though they have to do with the experience of depression rather than things specific to the film, so I will throw in a spoiler alert here and let the reader beware. The problem is that "what went wrong" is, as will be instantly recognizable by anyone who has lived through this kind of depression or lived with someone who has lived through this kind of depression, the wrong question entirely to be asking. I have no doubt that was Nettlebeck's point; the problem is that if her intention was to portray the ineffectual nature of David's quest leading to almost causing his own breakdown, she perhaps did it too well, as watching it is almost as frustrating as living it. One review I read of the film recently said this is a lesson as much as it is a movie. Indeed. And the didactic nature is liable to grate on anyone who already knows the answer.

Still, Ashley Judd's performance in the first part of this movie does make this worth watching, though I think you'd be forgiven for deciding to turn it off halfway through. **
March 5, 2013
During the movie at time 55:35, in the parking lot sucker punching scene< you can see a GIANT MAT that the guy lands on after being punched.
September 20, 2011
Excellently acted, I cried within the first 20 minutes of the movie and through out the entire movie. Although at a few parts it can seem a little long and drawn on. If you have/know someone with depression then this movie with be very real, if you don't then it may seem over dramatic .
jeanie m.
September 17, 2011
This is the most accurate portrayal of depression that I've ever seen. Ashley Judd does an amazing job - so amazing that she must have had the experience before. You just can't fake that kind of pain.
September 3, 2011
Greu de trecut prin el dar Judd face totul sa merite...
Niko K.
June 21, 2011
Terrible very slow and just depressing. Wasnt a good plot or acting.
June 14, 2011
Had so much promise but in the end was a total waste of time and money.
April 6, 2011
Helen's problem is not so much her depression, but her self absorption, narcissim and denial which is not explored at all. And the character of Mathilda is the most selfish of all.
March 13, 2011
4/10 She's depressed and what a depressing movie...
December 18, 2010
This small indie films need to be applauded for such personal handling of a delicate issue like clinical depression. The main performances are quite strong,and the film does somehow stay in your mind even after its over.
November 16, 2010
Ich sitze ca. 3,50 Meter vom Fernseher entfernt. Das ist eigentlich schon ein ganz schönes Stück, doch auch diese Entfernung konnte meine liebe Röhre nicht vor den Kotzstößen retten die dieser Film bei mir ausgelöst hat. Immer und immer wieder musste ich den Bildschirm freiwischen um dieses Unheil, das sich Film nennt, erkennen zu können. Nach einer geschlagenen Stunde habe ich den Mist dann ausgemacht. Aber ich bin ja auch selbst Schuld! Was schaue ich mir auch Dramen von Frauen an die nicht Sofia Coppola oder Isabel Coixet heißen (Halb ernst, halb spaßig gemeint)?!? Vielleicht muss man selbst depressiv sein um mit diesem Film etwas anfangen zu können. Ich für meinen Teil bin das nicht und fand diesen Film so unfassbar aufgesetzt, peinlich und schlecht inszeniert, dass es mir glatt schon wieder hochkommt. Merke: Ein ernstes Thema macht noch lange keinen guten Film aus...
Adam C.
August 18, 2010
This movie is fantastic! I only wish this movie would get more attention because Ashley Judd deserves an Oscar for her performance in this movie hands down and I can't understand how anyone else could say any different on that matter. On some level I can understand why people would find this movie slow but if your the kind of person who likes action and suspense movies then I wouldn't recommend it. You need to willing to put your time in and go on a journey with the character. I think every single person can relate to Helen in terms of depression, we've all felt it. Maybe not to the extent she did but in some way whether it be a family member or just one of those days you can't get out of bed after a heart break, you just feel lost. Again I say I hope this film gets more attention for Ashley Judd because she deserves an Oscar no doubt about it, i would even take a nomination but she deserves the attention! This movie is 5/5 in my opinion :)
August 18, 2010
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