I Used To Be Funny is a 2023 comedy drama written and directed by Ally Pankiw.
James Weyman, Jason Aita, Breann Smordin produce. The film stars Rachel Sennott, Olga Petsa, Jason Jones, Sabrina Jalees, Caleb Hearon, Ennis Esmer and Dani Kind. I received a copy of the film for review purposes.
I Used To Be Funny is a comedy/drama that follows Sam Cowell (Rachel Sennott), an aspiring stand-up comedian and au pair struggling with PTSD, as she decides whether or not to join the search for Brooke (Olga Petsa), a missing teenage girl she used to nanny.
The story exists between the present, where Sam tries to recover from her trauma and get back on stage, and the past, where memories of Brooke make it harder and harder to ignore the petulant teen’s sudden disappearance.
What I thought
Trauma in media is a difficult thing to approach. I Used To Be Funny has to tread a tight line. To provide the audience with understanding with sensationalising things. The film does this while not naming the trauma till the back third. The latter is very much a choice for aiding story telling but it doesn’t distract or reduce the impact of Sam’s journey before we know EVERYTHING.
Speaking on trauma it is interesting to note its portrayal on screen here. While we are slowly starting to acknowledge the importance of mental health TV and film was there first. In I Used To Be Funny while it takes some time to learn the source we are shown the effects of that trauma immediately. Sennott’s performance is full of nuance as Sam struggles between what she was and who she is now.
A Slow Recovery
I like that there wasn’t a magical mental health switch that saw Sam suddenly ‘fixed’. We get to see a little of her just putting one foot in front of the other in her recovery. The disappearance of Brooke is definitely the spark that lights a fire under her but it is still just a start.
Rachel’s friends/roommates though are the constant safeguard. Stepping up when there is no one else, I absolutely don’t know enough about Mental Health provision in Canada but that’s the industry I work in here and I know how bad waiting times even for cases like this can be. Paige and Philip step up in a way that only true friends could and remain there. Their support all the way through was amazing but felt real even to someone as cynical as me.
I Used To Be Funny takes a different perspective on the often told story and goes much further in showing what victims go through. Not just the immediate fallout but past that after the “closure” offered by the law and state. The perspective of trying to continue a life after it has been forever altered something I haven’t seem much of in TV or film. Definitely a film worth watching and sharing with your friends to bring some things often ignored into the light.
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