By Elisabeth LaMotte / January 8, 2016

David O. Russell has triumphed again.  Like The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, the film Joy blends captivating entertainment with psychological sophistication.  Russell tells the almost true-to-life tale of master inventor Joy Mangano, a New Jersey mother of two who rises from obscurity, overcomes loads of adversity, and builds a home- shopping empire.…

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Ricki and the Flash

By Elisabeth LaMotte / December 2, 2015

“Marriages come and go, but divorce is forever.” Nora Ephron This provocative quotation would be a suitable tagline for Jonathan Demme’s 2015 film Ricki and the Flash, released for on demand viewing this week.  This unexpectedly moving tale explores the long-term impact of divorce and maternal estrangement.  When a crisis in their adult child’s life…

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Mary and Max

By Elisabeth LaMotte / November 12, 2015

What happens when two misfits find each other?  Why is intimacy sometimes trigger for anxiety and self-doubt?  What does it mean to have a true friend? Mary and Max, a 2009 film by writer/ director Adam Elliot, delves into the friendship that builds through the unexpected correspondence between kindred spirits turned pen pals.   Set in 1976, the…

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Love and Mercy

By Elisabeth LaMotte / November 4, 2015

This unsettling but inspiring film profiles composer and performer Brian Wilson’s life, from his early years in the 1960s forming the Beach Boys through his mid-life years in the 1980s living in the aftermath of an apparent paranoid psychosis.   Love and Mercy begins as the mid-life Wilson (John Cusack) breezes into a Cadillac dealership, where, he encounters and is eager to impress a beautiful saleslady…

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The End of the Tour

By Elisabeth LaMotte / October 26, 2015

James Ponsoldt’s 2015 film, The End of the Tour, (recently released on cable) is easily relatable for therapists.  Perhaps especially so for therapists practicing in areas like DC full of high achievers.  Opening in 2008 with the news that acclaimed author David Foster Wallace has suicided, lesser acclaimed writer, David Lipsky, begins listening to old…

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Francis Ha

By Elisabeth LaMotte / October 16, 2015

Director: Noah Baumbach Writers: Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig With so many engaging, independent women living the single life in New York and in cities everywhere, it’s surprising there aren’t more authentic films about the single woman’s experience.  Sure, Sex and the City was a great fit for my cohort, and now Girls continues to…

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By Elisabeth LaMotte / October 2, 2015

Us David Nicholls 396 pages, 2014 “It was dizzying, really, to be in love at last.  Because this was the first time, I knew that now.  Everything else had been a misdiagnosis – infatuation, obsession perhaps, but an entirely different condition to this.  This was bliss; this was transformative.” Despite pages of engaging writing about…

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Mistress America

By Elisabeth LaMotte / September 2, 2015

The development of a solid sense of one’s self is often the goal of psychotherapy.  When therapy clients in their late teens, twenties or thirties seek therapy describing debilitating anxiety, depression or general dissatisfaction with their lives, these symptoms can often resolve when the client embraces the daunting task of figuring out who they are…

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While We’re Young

By Elisabeth LaMotte / August 25, 2015

“If age is just a state of mind, then While We’re Young is the best kind of therapy a forty something starting to lose touch with the younger generation could hope for.”   Peter Debruge, Variety Josh (Ben Stiller) and Cornelia (Naomi Watts) are settling into their forties and beginning to feel all washed up.  Josh,…

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Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

By Elisabeth LaMotte / August 19, 2015

Teenage romantic relationships are formative experiences that can be especially difficult to capture on film.  Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s adaptation of Jesse Andrews’ novel, Me, Earl and the Dying Girl captures the gritty and evasive sphere inhabited by teenagers and draws convincing, memorable performances.  Thomas Mann plays Greg (“me”), a moody, self-deprecating teen who spends his spare…

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