Middle School definitely sucks for many kids. It sucked for Kayla Day (Elsie Fisher) in her excruciatingly awkward (but at the same time sweet and hopeful) journey from Middle School to High School in Bo Burnham’s film Eighth Grade. Maybe it sucked for you. We see the obvious reasons in vivid Technicolor: the insecurities, the struggles fitting in; the fears of rejection; the uncertainties about “who am I?” It doesn’t help that there are mean kids and bullies to contend with. Yet, this isn’t the whole story. Teenage self-doubts have not so obvious roots in earlier childhood history. Not so sure?...

John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917 – 1963) was assassinated in Dallas, Texas on November 22. 1963. I was sixteen years old when his murder was announced over the loud speaker in my high school English class. School was dismissed. I walked home along the train tracks with a close friend, both of us shaken by the suddenness of death. Leo Hurwitz’s Essay On Death speaks to death’s randomness. Of course, JFK’s murder wasn’t random, but the fact that death can come out of nowhere at any time means that we live constantly with the fragility of life. At the same time, we...

Where is home? That’s the complicated question at the heart of Garth Davis’ film Lion, for a lost, bewildered, illiterate, scared, traumatized, stoically brave, and lovingly gentle 5-year-old boy, Saroo (Sunny Pawar). This little boy accidentally finds himself on a train taking him far, far from home, where he can’t speak the language, and has no one to help him find his way back. As this touching, heart-wrenching, inspiring film unfolds; finding home is what a very determined Saroo Brierley (Dev Patel) will finally do – 25 years later. Lost Saroo and his older brother Guddu (Abhishek Bharate) set out one night...

Loneliness is a silent world. That world is the world Ben (Oakes Fegley), Rose (Millicent Simmonds), and Jamie (Jaden Michael) inhabit in Todd Haynes’ gorgeously filmed and sensitively rendered half-period piece, half-silent and all-around beautifully woven film Wonderstruck. Haynes draws on the visual; on images that speak louder than words, to tell the story of these children – Rose from an era 50 years before the 1977 story of Ben and Jamie. All three are searching for answers, for belonging, for someone to hear them, in a strangely confusing world of loss. What Ben, Rose, and Jamie find is more...

As much as I loved Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman, I can’t say I felt the same about The Revenant. I know the film won big at the Golden Globes and has received Oscar nods for Best Picture and Best Actor. Perhaps that’s because a fantasy lives deep inside us about exacting revenge where we believe revenge is due. Still, spending close to 3 hours watching the agonies of a man who’s brutally mauled by a bear, who can’t catch a break, is left to die by supposed friends, and has to endure one gruesome circumstance after another became almost unbearably tedious. Yet,...

Home is where we start from. This truth, and the title of one of D.W. Winnicott’s books, captures much unspoken about the impact our families have on how we develop. What happens to us in those environments sets the tone for differing separation struggles we see in young people, including Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan) the main character in John Crowley and Nick Hornby’s film, Brooklyn. For Eilis, an Irish girl transplanted to Brooklyn in the 1950’s, the severe homesickness that settles in arises out of the emotional residues of a difficult mother. A Difficult Mother Eilis’ only parent is her mother (Jane Brennan)....

M. Night Shyamalan’s new psychological horror film, The Visit, has twists and turns and unexpected surprises that I wouldn’t think of revealing. Of course, this film has one of Shyamalan’s shock endings – it wouldn’t be a Shyamalan film without it. But for me as a psychoanalyst, there’s something else of more interest. What this film’s characters tell us about the ability or inability to work out the sometimes very scary feelings of loss and guilt. In The Visit, we have a family – a Mom (Kathryn Hahn), a 15-year-old daughter, Becca (Olivia DeJonge), and a 13-year-old son, Tyler (Ed Oxenbould)...

I just watched the trailer for Jake Gyllenhaal's upcoming 2016 film, Demolition, about the aftermath of his character, Davis’s, sudden loss of his wife, Julia. Loss can take many forms. As the trailer shows, Davis unravels. He can’t pull himself together. His father-in-law tries to encourage him to rebuild his life. To do so, he demolishes the house he lived in with his wife – in an attempt to move past his old life and go on.  Grieving really doesn’t work well that way. It’s an interesting premise. Yet, as a psychologist who works with grief, I can’t agree that dealing...

Loss can be a dead place. If you move forward, you’ll know the person you love is gone. As I sat spell bound in the Majestic Theater watching the brilliant performances of James Barbour as Phantom and Julia Udine as Christine Daad, I knew that The Phantom Of The Opera isn’t only the story of a bitter, jealous, love-starved freak that believes he can only get love by possession and threat. At a much deeper level, it’s the story of an orphaned girl in the grips of a phantom father. A father she can’t grieve. When a loved one dies, mourning...

Paula Hawkins’ New York Times bestselling novel, The Girl On The Train, gives us Rachel – a girl obsessed. There’s no question this novel is a mind bending murder mystery par excellence. But, for me as a psychoanalyst it poses a more interesting question. What’s behind Rachel’s obsession? Rachel Watson rides the train every day. She rides - as if she has a purpose. She used to have a life. Now she has nothing. She rides past her old neighborhood where the life she lost took place – the only happy life she ever had. She watches Jason and Jess; at...