Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Her Name is Sabine

This is a beautiful, tragic documentary film directed by the actress Sandrine Bonnaire. It uses home movie footage of her sister Sabine along with footage made when Sabine was a resident of a group home for people with serious psychiatric and neurological disabilities. The contrast between the images of the hauntingly beautiful adolescent Sabine and the obese, drooling, anxiety ridden and occasionally violent woman that her sister found  after her five years residence in a psychiatric hospital is profoundly moving. The film also answers a question that I have had for years since seeing Sandrine Bonnaire in the Agnes Varda film Vagabond. I wondered how Bonnaire had 'found' the hauntingly beautiful character she plays. Her Name is Sabine certainly gives a clue to an answer to that question.
I should add that Sabine is described in publicity for the film as 'autistic.' As I recall, someone who I took to be a psychiatrist in the film describes her as a 'psychoinfantile character with autistic features.' [I may not remember this exactly] While I thought that schizophrenia was a reasonable diagnosis for Sabine [especially as she seems to be receiving clozapine treatment], I found it interesting that schizophrenia is not mentioned in the film. I wondered if this was due to stigma or diagnostic peculiarities in France.