“125 people in the UK and Ireland will commit suicide this week.” This is the first thing you see on the screen when watching the film I Made This for You by Cristian Solimeno, which tackles the heartbreaking subject of one man’s suicide attempt and depression. More talked about than ever, but still a somewhat touchy. Yet after 117 minutes, you will still find, that what you have just watched was a feel-good movie. Find out why in this article.
We see a man in black and white. His surrounding space has lost all colour, all sound is gone, he sits in absolute silence. His friends and family have been reaching out for weeks, but he’s ignored all calls and texts. His eyes are empty, but they contain a sense of resignation. His phone buzzes – it’s his friend David, who is yet again trying to get a hold of him. No reaction. The doorbell rings.
It’s David. But the man doesn’t want to see anybody. Suddenly there’s a noise: David slips a DVD under the door, which reads: “I Made This For You, Please Watch It”. And so he does. The screen lights up in color, as the man still sits in his duo-tone existence.
The DVD shows interviews and video messages by friends, relatives and exes about this man, recorded by his friend David.
They show them recalling the first time they’d met the man, all the fun they had, how they appreciate his ideas and his being. How he supported him through their though and dark times. How they saw him from their perspective. And the time, they first noticed something seemed to change – he became more distant, isolated himself and seemed to become another version of himself, they had previously not seen before.
We watch the man lighten up when being confronted with fun memories and kind words about him. Other interviews are brutally honest about his downsides and how a person found it difficult to form an honest connection with him.
His ex is still puzzled, as to why it didn’t work out between them when they used to be so happy together. It’s a rollercoaster ride for the man, and we’re in it, too. During the duration of this film, he is on the road to realizing, that despite his best efforts to shut himself off from the world, the people in his life, still truly care about him.
“The process of making the film has been different from anything I had ever done before”, director, producer, writer and actor Cristian Solimeno says.
In the beginning, Solimeno’s main idea was to talk about a man with depression. Apart from that, Solimeno was in search of the characters’ true story and life along the way of making the movie, by collecting other people’s real stories. He was after a raw, honest and anti-glossy look, that would enable him to focus on the human experience. he uses several techniques to aid this including the very intentional use and absence of colour, as well as sound.
During the process of putting the film together and in a way to explore the character he had written about he interviewed people who were directly affected by another persons’ suicide or were feeling particularly worried about the mental health of a loved one. These real stories were the puzzle pieces that bought the film alive and the core character back story.
Each interview took about an hour. With this material – a patchwork of so many individual stories – he then cut the videos together, so they would fit and add to the man’s storyline in the film, only adding in some additional, fictional interviews right at the end.
The man, who carries the film with his inner monologue, without ever saying a word, is actor Gary Grant. “I just knew he was going to be able to do it”, Solimeno describes his actor colleague.
Although Grant was involved in the filmmaking process from the getgo, most of what we see him reacting to the interviews, were his first takes. Up until the point of filming, he hadn’t seen the videos at all. This brings an added level of emotive personal engagement for the viewer even if not aware of the fact, The performance is raw and real reactions are intimate and powerfully engaging.
This incredibly empathic and intimate film celebrated its preview screening and was received with emotional and empowering responses from the audience, and is now looking for distribution. What really sticks with you after watching, is the kindness, care and empathy that surrounds the film. The message: seek help, when feeling helpless – people will care.
One could expect a film about such dark and heavy subject matters, to pull you down and leave you spinning in an endless turmoil.
Instead, I Made This For You, sheds new light on life’s difficult themes and proves, that in fact, this film has really been made for all of us.