We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
Depression is such a personal, intangible, mystifying phenomenon. Signe Baumane tries to make sense of it in unexpected fashion—through colorful animation and dark humor—with “Rocks in My Pockets.”
The Latvian-born artist clearly has poured so much of herself into this film, both physically and emotionally. In her feature debut, she serves as director, writer, animator, narrator, producer and co-editor. Further, she explores her own depression by tracing its origins in her family, through various women who took their own lives all the way back to her grandmother, who was beautiful and bright but lived like a peasant in the woods with a fiercely jealous husband and eight children.
But Baumane also dares to share her own suicidal tendencies—thoughts that crept up and crippled her—and even admits that after she became a mother, she fantasized about hanging herself in the attic: “It made me feel free,” she says. “It made me feel like I had options again.” She was then sent to a Soviet-run mental hospital and locked away with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. That she emerged and managed to thrive as an artist all these years later is a testament to her strength and perseverance.
Such brutal candor might sound shocking, but Baumane’s willingness to open herself up and shine a light on taboo territory is one of the film’s great strengths, and one of its gifts. It takes a while to grow comfortable with her methodology, however.