Film Review: OC87: The Obsessive Compulsive Major Depression Bipolar Asperger's Movie

Insightful look into the world of the mentally disturbed—by a filmmaker who is also his own subject.

OC87: The Obsessive Compulsive Major Depression Bipolar Asperger’s Movie takes the now-familiar personal case-history approach to depicting one person’s struggle with mental illness; the uniqueness of the project is that the director is that one person. Given the increasing societal awareness about psychological problems, OC87 makes a useful contribution and should appeal to a large audience.

To be fair and accurate, Bud (Buddy) Clayman gets help directing OC87 from
Glenn Holsten and Scott Johnston—which isn’t surprising considering the range of issues (indicated by the title) with which Clayman is dealing. Yet, one senses this is Buddy’s story from his point of view, as much as that was possible during production. At age 47, Clayman suffers from several distinct (though simultaneously occurring) problems while reviewing his life through home movies, previous attempts at filmmaking, pictures, and interviews with friends and family members. Clayman also visits with his psychologist, other professionals who have helped him through the years, and a few better-known fellow sufferers (a newscaster, a soap-opera actor, etc.).

OC87 does not offer new or bold solutions, nor does it try to create anything aesthetically interesting out of the material, but Clayman’s sheer openness and honesty make the film hard not to watch. There is a quiet dignity to Clayman, despite his lack of affect and misshapen appearance. Not only does he clearly want to get better, but he is also intelligent enough to know that “getting better” is a very elusive goal. Discounting a climactic reunion between Clayman and his estranged father, OC87 does not try to manipulate the audience; nor, except for a brief, strange walk along a city sidewalk and a humorous parody of a “Lost in Space” episode, does the film recreate (impressionistically or expressionistically) Clayman’s demons—something very common in fiction films (from Dr. Caligari onward). Instead, the production elements are minimalist and unobtrusive—from Michael Aharon’s low-key music score to Daniel Traub’s unremarkable but professional camerawork.

Being the kind of personalized documentary it is, OC87 also limits itself in terms of defining and distinguishing the terms used (e.g., what a major depression is and how it differs from everyday depression, what medicines are best for what illnesses). Otherwise, the film is step forward into a very dark area.