Film Review: EIGHT at Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival

12 November 2015 / by Mikayla Fasullo (author)
 (photo: EIGHT, directed by Peter Blackburn.)
/ (photo: EIGHT, directed by Peter Blackburn.)


In the film EIGHT, the simplest idea of getting ready in the morning is far from simple.

 Emotionally, the film draws you into the character of Sarah, who suffers from an extreme case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) as she takes what would normally be basic steps of getting ready in the morning. OCD is a well-known term, often bandied about in a joking way among friends. EIGHT Director Peter Blackburn exposes how OCD is even more than a compulsion of an even number, parallelism or the dominating feeling of having to be squeaky clean, and show how the illness can wholly dominate people's lives.

 The entire film appears to have been shot in one take, adding a sense of heightened reality and involves the viewer in the activities and emotions Sarah experiences in the hour and twenty minutes she gets ready. For Sarah (Libby Munro), simple morning tasks are an immense struggle. The title of the film, EIGHT, comes from her need to repeat things eight times. She has to hit her snooze button eight times before she can get out of bed and lock the door eight times before opening or closing it.  Sarah's life is controlled by this number.

 Not every person who has the condition experiences a similar numerical reference with their OCD. People with OCD can experience a mix of obsessions, some more aggressive than others. Along with Sarah's fixation on eight, she also has an obsession with cleanliness. The film explains that OCD can develop at random, or if you have a minor case of the disorder it can suddenly accelerate. With Sarah it seemed that her OCD had never strongly displayed itself until she was an adult. Her shame causes her to isolate herself in a small home to learn to control it. Sarah's fear that her OCD was passed on to her daughter only exacerbates her anxiety. 

 Along the walls, on doors, mirrors and drawers, Sarah places yellow sticky notes with simple reminders on them. “Only need to hit alarm once!” and “Only shower once!” As the film goes on, the passage of time is marked by the number of yellow sticky notes that come to wallpaper the house.

 Blackburn emphasizes that OCD is not a quirk, but a debilitating disorder that can take over your life, and hints that extreme OCD behaviour may even be fueled by larger societal anxieties about perfectionism and cleanliness. 

EIGHT was screened November 10 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, as part of the Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival. The festival runs until November 14. 


The author

Mikayla Fasullo

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