Authors note: Before I begin my review on Love You Anyway, this film features drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, suicide, and self-harm. Audience viewer and reader discretion is advised.
On June 28, Freestyle Digital Media released a small Indie film, Love You Anyway, written and directed by Anna Matz, to only American viewers.
Love You Anyway centres around two childhood best friends, Mackenzie (Reign Edwards-The Wilds) and Lucas (Charlie Gillespie-Julie and the Phantoms), as they navigate through the ups and downs of life side-by-side. The film dares to tackle all aspects of mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, self-harm, and suicide in a unique way unlike anything viewers have seen before.
The movie was uniquely filmed in the first-person point of view through home videos filmed on a phone. This style gives viewers the feeling the characters are relaying the way they feel to you through their real-time emotions.
The point of view is demonstrated throughout the film, starting at birth and ending in a complete 360. Mack and Lucas take viewers on an adventure through their lives together and separate from their highest highs to their lowest lows, fully utilising the beauty of a phone’s camera.
Matz’s vision of making the characters as relatable as possible exceeded my expectations. Both characters hit home to me and my past in ways I didn’t realise until I watched each scene. Mack’s life starts to spiral when she suffers a torn ACL and decides to quit soccer despite a promising career ahead of her.
Although it’s not discussed too often, injuries can lead to depression, substance abuse, and suicide. When Mack decided to step away from soccer, it flashed back to when I was in high school and quit tennis despite a promising season. Any athlete who’s experienced an injury that riddled a career like myself and Mack understands the feeling of losing everything and not knowing how to handle yourself and your mental wellbeing.
Mack and Lucas go their separate ways to college, and that’s when the stories begin to differ. Mack struggles with not knowing her place, not feeling herself, and loneliness while Lucas is off winning a championship and sustaining his long-distance relationship with his soon-to-be fiancé. They exchange videos to and from each other where Mack reveals her struggle with her mental health and her relapse into self-harm.
Mack goes out of her way to buy drugs and takes enough oxycodone at a party to knock her unconscious. A real gutwrenching point in the film comes when Mack records a suicide video and details the reasonings for her wanting to die, all while thanking Lucas and her mom for always being there for her in the darkest times.
Mack is saved from her attempt, and her recovery journey begins in a rehab centre. In there she learns more about herself, makes friends who watch Lucas’ soccer games, and learns to say no to any offers of drugs or alcohol when she eventually is released. She becomes the Mack her mom and Lucas knew and loved before depression vastly took over and almost ended her life.
In turn, viewers see Lucas getting into a brutal car accident with his fiancé, forcing him into a coma. Mack is there daily to give him entertainment and make a fool out of herself in the best way possible, hoping it would wake him up from the coma. The roles reverse after Lucas wakes up. His romantic relationship is ruined, and he ends up being cut from his college’s soccer team. Depressed, Lucas resorts to alcohol to cope with his new trauma. It takes Mack’s strength and trusts in herself to ensure Lucas gets the help he needs.
Mack and Lucas’ stories end up with a true and encouraging happy ending that ends in a total 360. In tv shows and films centring around mental illness, the one suffering almost always doesn’t end up with a happy ending. Matz showed that even with trauma and the inability to do something you once excelled at, you can achieve your passion and dreams with the support system around you. Mack gets a tattoo of a semi-colon symbolising your story is not over even when you think it is.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, suicide, addiction, and self-harm, you are not alone. Here are some resources for the USA and Australia.
Australia support services courtesy of Mindframe
Lifeline: 13 11 14 lifeline.org.au
Kid’s helpline: 1800-551-800 kidshelpline.com.au
National Alcohol and Other Drugs Hotline: 1800-250-015
United State support services:
Suicide hotline: 1-800-273-8255 or dial code 988
24/7 Crisis text line: 741741
National Drug and Alcohol Hotline: 1-800-662-4357