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'My Sister Liv' review: An emotional film with an important message

Movie Reviews

‘My Sister Liv’ review: An emotional film with an important message

One of the most powerful films of the year.

WARNING: MY SISTER LIV DEALS WITH TOPICS THAT CAN BE TRIGGERING

The NATIONAL SUICIDE & CRISIS LIFELINE is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress via the toll-free number 9-88. 24/7 call, text, and chat access can be provided

My Sister Liv is a powerful documentary that opens with a simple, yet heartbreaking statement. The film takes an unflinching look at the current teen mental health crisis. Tess and her sister Liv had an unbreakable bond until Liv, who had been battling with depression, body dysmorphia, and suicidal thoughts is unable to take it anymore. Her surviving sister tries to understand what led to Liv’s death while also trying to help young people who are in trouble.

Tess is the narrator for the film, which takes the form of an open letter to her sister. Naturally, it is a very difficult watch. The task left to filmmaker Alan Hicks is to put together something that is meaningful and promotes conversation without being manipulative. It sounds like common sense and even a little crass, but many modern news stories that follow national tragedies tend to go more for emotional terrorism over actual discussion.

Which is not to say that My Sister Liv should be devoid of feeling. The subject matter alone will move anyone who watches. Listening to Tess and her mother speak so openly about Liv are incredibly powerful moments. Their loss and love comes through with every word they say. There is another important theme that runs through the film, however. From the relationship the sisters forged to how Tess deals with the trauma of losing someone so close to her, there is a message of trying to find hope in pain.

'My Sister Liv' review: An emotional film with an important message

That is where the documentary truly succeeds. Along with being a painful subject, it looks to teach audiences about the resources that are available to those who may need them. My Sister Liv examines the work of The Liv Project and shows how Tess and her mother are trying to help others. The end result is a moving film that also delivers an important message.

My Sister Liv is screening as part of DOC NYC

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