AND THE OSCAR GOES TO...?
Borderlines in Film and Television
BY SHARI SCHREIBER, M.A.
This page is dedicated to the marvelous ability that art has for imitating life, and teaching us more (specifically) about Borderline Personality Disorder. Some of these examples may replicate what you've already read in my various articles or forums--but omitting them (here) didn't seem a favorable option. If you're struggling in a relationship with someone who's borderline disordered, re-viewing these movies or TV programs and seeing them through a BPD lens, may help you get a better handle on your current situation, and that's really the point of all this.
When you're involved with a BPD female, daily life
feels a lot like "She loves me, She loves me not."
Anna Karenina. You can't get more BPD than that.
I think Lena Dunham (HBO's Girls) is brilliant~ but frankly, Hanna's character has gone a bit too dark for me. Okay, so she's a Borderline who dumps her bf Adam (played by the marvelous Adam Driver) when he finally attaches, but piercing her eardrum with a Q-tip, and then intentionally diving-in after the other one, was over the top~ even for a girl with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. I deal with BPD triage care all day long in my practice, so maybe that's why this show has lost its entertainment value and just feels like 'more work.' I wanna relax on my time off, and this series ain't gettin it done for me no mo.
The Sopranos (HBO series) cannot be overlooked, in context of it's characters with BPD. Livia (Anthony's mother) is as classic an example of a BPD Waif/Witch as we'll ever see. When confronted with anything real or true, she waves away the comment, or cries and plays the "poor abandoned me" card~ yet this is a woman who sanctioned her own son's execution! His sister Janice rides on that same train, as she'd relish having him out of the way, in reference to their mother's estate. Tony's extramarital lovers have BPD features as well, of course. I'm having such a good time watching the reruns, and watching the well-meaning but deeply flawed Dr. Melfi, is like catnip for this kitty.
The Cry of the Owl (2009) is the story of a man being divorced by a really twisted a Borderline, and we come to discover he's had a mental breakdown due to that relationship. Simultaneously, he reluctantly accepts the tenacious advances of yet another one! Julia Styles (Jenny) stalks Robert (Paddy Considine) until he relents, and allows her to share his bed. Jenny's ex-boyfriend (also psychotic) tries to kill him, and a seemingly endless series of harrowing experiences befall poor Robert. The moral of this story? Stear clear of sexually aggressive women.
Prozac Nation is our opportunity to observe a young borderline female who struggles with depression, and we can see the parental influences of how she acquired it. Christina Ricci couldn't have portrayed this (true) story of a Borderline's inner pain and chaos more perfectly. This movie was based on the book, Prozac Nation written by Elizabeth Wurtzel. I'd always thought it was an expose on the drug Prozac, so I was never inclined to read it. I could not have been more wrong. This movie has a terrific cast, including Jessica Lang as Lizzie's affectionate yet self-absorbed, controlling, guilting, narcissistic mother. Michelle Williams is her best friend (for awhile) and Jason Biggs is her boyfriend (whom she initially views as her savior). Anne Heche is the shrink in this flick, who eventually gets Lizzie stabilized enough (on meds), to make use of her therapy. Really excellent film~ especially for those of you who grew up trying to love and trust your narcissistic parents.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) starring Jim Carrey should definitely not be billed as a 'comedy,' but you've gotta watch it twice in a row to appreciate it, and grasp its meaning. The theme song by Beck (Everybody's Got To Learn Sometimes) was an ironic choice for this flick, because its characters don't learn a darned thing from their catastrophic romantic entanglement which replays over and over, like a broken record. Kate Winslet is Clementine~ a quirky, quintessential Borderline who changes her hair color as often as her panties. She warns Joel (Carrey) that she's a fucked-up vindictive bitch, and with the exception of one moment of self-preservation and clarity, he goes for it anyway. Why? His intra-psychic world is joyless/colorless and empty (sound familiar?). Early in the script, his inner narrative asks, "why do I fall in love with every woman who gives me the least bit of attention?" We learn that he's dumped an ex live-in girlfriend Naomi (after meeting Clem, of course) whom he retrospectively realizes loved him~ presumably because she wasn't unpredictable and pain-inducing enough to make him feel alive. Each time Joel falls for Clementine, Tangerine, or whatever moniker she's adopted for the moment, it's symbolic of an insecure man's desperate quest for validation, and unending addiction to choosing virtually the same female (albeit in different packaging) every time he gets involved. We're made aware of this deja-vu aspect in Joel's orbit, and while this movie hints at childhood struggles, it misses the mark in context of his obsession with Clementine. You'll very likely relate to this film, if you're still licking your wounds from the last BPD gal who turned your universe upside-down, because it's eerily accurate.
Breaking Bad on television's AMC network just has to be mentioned here. I'd begun following the series rather late in the game, so I've relished catching up with reruns of early episodes prior to this season's opener (7/15/12). What I missed in the later shows I'd seen, was the depth of Walter White's pathology. There's so much I want to say about this bright, highly manipulative character~ but for the sake of brevity, he's a rageful, impulsive, egomaniacal Borderline ("nobody can reproduce my meth formula"), who's a pathological liar and murderer. Deliberately letting Jesse's girlfriend choke to death on her vomit served his selfish agenda, but his narcissistic myopia caused the demise of numerous others. While we see Walt's transient struggle with guilt/remorse, he defends against these feelings by minimizing the tragedies he's catalyzed with his 'glass half-full' rationale to a high school audience, that makes you wanna throttle him! Yes, he's (intermittently) a great guy and 'Super Dad,' but that mask erodes when he plies his sixteen year old son with tequila, during a celebratory party for Walt's cancerous tumor remitting (many Borderlines have trouble with good feelings, success and victories, which interfere with their death wish). The entire cast of this incredible show does a spectacular job, and the writing is stellar. My favorite character is Jesse Pinkman, brilliantly played by Aaron Paul~ but major kudos to Bryan Cranston and the rest of the gang, for giving us the best TV ever! Find a way to start watching it from season one.
Guinevere paints a stellar picture of an alcoholic borderline disordered middle-aged, male photographer ('Connie,' played by Stephen Rea) who seduces insecure young women by whisking them off their feet with lavish praise and attention. Waif-like Harper (Sarah Polley) is captivated by his charms, but too naive to see the forest for the trees, which lands her in the Caregiver role for this aging Lothario. Jean Smart is Harper's mother, who verbally decimates Connie during a surprise visit to her daughter. She's a super-cunt and we feel sorry for him, until BPD Mom leaves--but it soon becomes clear that poor Harper has fallen in love with a male prototype of her mother (gee, what a surprise). There have been half a dozen other 'Guineveres' before Harper, of course. Each desperate to be loved by a man who's incapable of loving, and whose ego feeds off the 'awe' he can inspire in females too young (and damaged) to know better.
Blue Valentine (2010) takes us on a perilous journey with Dean and Cindy (Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams) that vacillates between perfect love and the kind of torment, confusion and frustration you may have felt during your dance with a male Borderline. Cindy's got a rageful, abusive father and passive/victim mother, and guess who she emulates? The lesser of two evils, of course. She walks on eggshells with Dean, and just can't seem to talk to hubby without triggering his crazy-making projections. The emotional peaks and valleys in this (painfully slow) depressing movie, made me wanna put a gun to my head by the time it finished. You'll need lotsa popcorn just to raise your serotonin levels, if you're gonna hang in there to the bitter end.
Cyrus is a quirky little movie about a man-child with BPD features played by Jonah Hill. His enmeshed mom (Marisa Tomei) has raised a boy with an obvious eating disorder (he's a moose), whose only way of finding any autonomy with Mommy is calling her by her first name ("Molly"). Cyrus recognizes that he's deeply disturbed and dysfunctional. He lies, he's manipulative, and has no intention of launching into adulthood. We get the sense that Cyrus keeps Molly to himself by frustrating/baffling her suitors, until John C. Reilly's character shows up, and has enough sense of Self to confront this behemoth of a kid, despite his own struggle with depression, remorse and concerns about the imminent remarriage of his ex-wife. I didn't buy the ending, but hey--that's Hollywood.
Diary of a Tired Black Man is a must-see if you're a hen-pecked, brow-beaten male of any race--but this film spectacularly portrays the hatred and rage that black women act-out toward men, and this issue appears to be handed down/perpetuated generation to generation. I felt there was a bit of misinformation in the film, as these gals believe that fathers are responsible for their attitude, but children learn from example, and emulate what they see and hear growing up--they also treat others how they were treated as kids! So what does it mean, if these so-called "strong women" were raised solely by their mothers?? It means they're taught to hate men by scared, angry single women who mask their insecurity, mistrust and fear with false bravado--and haven't the slightest clue about how to love.
Shame (2011, and in theaters now) is one I really wanted to like, but it left me flat. Unless you're not getting enough porn online and you're starving for lots of tits and ass, this film's a disappointing choice. The story's thin, and the first half plods painfully along despite abundant nudity, which seems gratuitous throughout the nearly two hours you're trying to stay awake. Every glorious inch of Michael Fassbender (Brandon) is utterly gorgeous, but not even his magnificent frame and stallion ganglion can save this film. Carey Mulligan plays Brandon's waif-like sister who's a cutter. Her lack of boundaries and impulse control make for tense sibling rivalry. I was up for an intelligent, probing (you should pardon the pun), reasonably insightful look at sex addiction, but this one misses the mark.
My Week With Marilyn (in theaters now; 12/2011) is the factual story of a young man's brief opportunity to meet, fall in love with and attempt to rescue a waif-like Marilyn Monroe. It's a movie within a movie, starring Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain) and Kenneth Branagh, and the period detail (mid-1950's) is seamless. Eddie Redmayne's Colin Clark is determined to work in the film industry, despite presumptions by his parents that he'll fail. He's never gotten their approval, so his need to be perfect in others eyes is entrenched, and so is his Hero Complex. We get to see how talented Marilyn was at seducing, but how pitifully lacking this drug addicted actor (enabled by people whose livelihoods depended on keeping her upright) really was. Good flick.
An Education (2008) shows us how easy it is to fall for a borderline disordered male. Peter Sarsgaard's character, David takes up with a 16 year old girl named Jenny (Carey Mulligan), and sweeps her and her parents off their feet. Despite Jenny's innate wisdom and maturity (which helps us see her as more adult than her parents and new suitor), she's flattered by David's attention and the exciting world he opens up for her. He's impulsive, but delightfully charming and charismatic--and his lies and deceit give us windows into his lack of character. It's hard to describe this movie without spoiling the story-line for you, but pay close attention to how he seduces Jenny's parents into liking him, and allowing their adolescent daughter to share company with a pedophile. As we become aware of David's premature ejaculation issue, it further explains why he preys on naive, sexually inexperienced females.
No Way To Treat A Lady (1968) stars George Segal, Rod Steiger and Lee Remick, and if you wanna see the BPD seduction phase in full throttle, watch Remick's 'Kate' sweep poor little (henpecked by his crazy Jewish mother)Morris (Segal) off his insecure little feet. He's a detective trying to catch a serial killer who grew up with an abusive mom, similar to his own (a delicious irony, as one brow-beaten son becomes a sociopath, and the other a shy cop). Mo's a walking target for borderline disordered Kate who instantly wins over his mother when they meet, by echoing her sentiments about her 'loser' son. Even though Kate's a shiksa (a gentile female) Mo's mother (played splendidly by Eileen Heckhart) is totally enraptured with her son's new girlfriend. Why not? They're cut from the same cloth! If nothing else, this movie is a how-to manual on how raise a son who'll be highly susceptible to falling for a Borderline.
Body of Evidence (circa 1993) has an accused murderer (played by Madonna), seducing her defense attorney, Willem Defoe. A tension filled, erotic romp you won't at all mind watching (I always liked Madonna's acting more than her singing--but hey, that's what makes the world go-round).
The Real L-Word on Showtime takes us into the world of lesbian love, but it's rife with BPD acting-out behaviors, to the extent it's almost comical in its utter predictability. Most of these lovely, watchable females give us stellar opportunities to observe high-drama and chaos playing out within their romantic attachments and friendships--yet they remain pitifully confused about why they compulsively sabotage relationships that have any chance of flourishing.
Savage Grace is fact-based, 2007 psychodrama starring Julianne Moore and Stephen Dillane. She's an adulterous wife, and enmeshed/incestuous Borderline mother, who crosses more boundaries than you can comfortably fathom. This film is pretty raw, and at times disturbing. While viewing, I kept thinking of Anna Nicole Smith and her son--but that's purely speculation on my part. Still, it's an issue I've remained curious about since his death, and of course, hers.
Black Swan shows us a Borderline in the making. Natalie Portman (whom I've loved since seeing her in The Professional) offers a stellar performance as a young ballerina who needs to be perfect for "Mommy." Barbara Hershey plays an enmeshed mother, whose cloying, suffocating relationship with her daughter prevents her from growing up (or away from her), and makes us squirm. Poor Nina (Portman) is virtually imprisoned by her mom's volatility, hyper-vigilant control and martyr-like behaviors (God forbid you make her cry), which are all cloaked in syrupy attention/affection. Nina is dissociated from her feelings to the extent that her self-mutilation (voracious shoulder scratching) is totally outside any conscious awareness. To say the least, she's conflicted, completely split-off from her darker personality aspects (which emerge only in dreams or fantasy sequences), and devoid of any healthysense of Self. A disturbing, creepy thriller--if you like that sort of film genre. As for me, I'd have rather waited for it on cable.
Revolutionary Road should have made it to this page long ago--but hey, I've been busy patching up the wounded. Kate Winslet plays the idealistic and dissatisfied April, whose big dreams run interference with the inescapable suburban family life that insidiously erodes her hope for a brighter future. You'll wanna hold your head, while watching the fights she picks with husband Frank (Leonardo DiCaprio), especially when you start getting the sense that this couple's only way of connecting, is by doing battle (well, except for the sumptuous breakfast she prepares for him the morning after a huge blow-out--acting as though all is peachy in their marital relationship, and giving him a long-awaited sense that they might make it together afterall). April's lack of boundaries and impulse control have her acting-out in ways that jeopardize her marriage--and even her life. Great supporting role by Kathy Bates.
EAT PRAY LOVE is a film I had the good sense not to see in a theater when it was released. I think Julia Roberts (as Liz) was perfectly type-cast for this movie, as she consistently snags roles that have her getting close--but not too close to her male leads. She appears to be a method actor with a whole lot of expertise in this particular arena (and art often imitates life). Anyhow, Liz's inner turmoil and ongoing discontent with her existence (no matter whom she's sleeping with) has her fleeing even the most loving relationships--and all that pasta, praying and fucking doesn't come anywhere close to filling her inner void. Even the ending pissed me off--because after all her soul-searching, she still can't figure out how to hold onto herself, while holding tight to another (which shows us she's right back at square one, and this entire journey was a bloody waste of time and celluloid)! The single redeeming feature of this movie was I got to see the incredibly yummy Javier Bardem, but this prize wasn't worth the price I paid--even on cable.
Big Love on HBO has one of the greatest ensemble casts I've ever seen. The acting on this show is unmatched--well, except perhaps for The Sopranos, which was another of my personal fav's. Nicolette (Chloe Sevigny) masterfully plays the family's resident Borderline--but what could you expect with a brother like Alby, and parents like the Grants?? She's cunning, hypocritical, lying and controlling, yet "so terribly hurt" when anyone challenges her. Honestly, I feel like I wanna strangle that character way too often! I thought that Alby was finally going to put her out of my misery on this week's episode (3/12/11), before the final season's episode on the 20th--but no such luck. Damn! So near, and yet so far. Special nods to the entire cast, especially Jeanne Triplehorn (Barb), Ginnifer Goodwin (Margene) and Bill Paxton (Bill Henrickson) whose character's blatant narcissism persistently drives both the man who's principled with higher purpose, and the guy whose myopic, self-sabotaging grandiosity will surely bring about his ruination. I don't know about you, but I'm gonna miss that show.
Original Sin (2001) stars Angelina Jolie and Antonio Bandaris. He's expecting a virtuous mail-order bride, and ends up with a Borderline instead. Lots of intrigue--and that familiar refrain, "I know she's bad for me, but I want her anyway" keeps smacking you in the face throughout this film, right up to its improbable conclusion. Look for Thomas Jane (of Hung), as he's barely recognizable in this period piece.
Dream Lover stars James Spader (a fabulous, versatile talent) and the lovely Madchen Amick as the waif-like glamour girl who sweeps him off his feet,despite his early sense that she's trouble with a capital T. Every time I see this movie, I like it better than the last time. Spader's character is drawn into a labyrinth of deceit, doubt and emotional torment. His gorgeous borderline wife pushes and prods him, until he lashes out in defense. We get to see what can happen, when we disregard our instincts and intuitions. This film's ending is priceless.
Mad Men is totally addictive for me. Just can't get enough of it. Are you paying close attention to the former Mrs. Donald Draper? I noticed that 'Betty' had ice-Queen features from the very start of this AMC series, but Her Highness has been showing us just how much Witch resides inside that lovely, but frigid exterior; God, what an evil, mean mommy! Jon Hamm (Draper) is one of the yummiest men on television. His character epitomizes the guy you hate to love.
Duplicity is an absolutely great example of BPD in someone's personality, in this intriguing film that stars Julia Roberts and Clive Owen. A tense, espionage-type drama laced with highly romantic/sexual interludes, Duplicity has you rooting for love to take hold--and feeling exasperated when it doesn't (and if you've spent any time with a Borderline, you know exactly what I mean). Just pay attention to the verbal dynamic between these two, and you'll feel like you're watching a rerun of your own little BPD movie.
Sliver casts Sharon Stone as a divorcee who moves into a pricey highrise, only to be stalked and seduced by William Baldwin's character, who has zero sense of boundaries. He's much too free with his "I love you's" before the bed even gets cold, in-between lovers. Here's a borderline guy with serious mother abandonment issues, who's seeking her face in every woman he dates and beds. Superb supporting role played by Tom Berenger, who keeps us guessing about whether he's a good guy or bad one, right up until the film's conclusion.
The Bachelor on ABC isn't a show I watch--but my gal-pal who loves reality television described an incident (that aired on July 5, 2010) with a candidate who seems to perfectly fit the classic Borderline criteria. She's shaming, blaming, castrating, victim-like, and comes as close to showing us BPD drama playing out, as you're ever gonna see on TV. It appears that Pilot 'Jake' dodged a bullet! (Who says, television isn't educational?!)
Expired is for you ladies out there, who want to get a real taste of what it's like to be with the quintessential borderline-disordered male. I'm not kidding. This is the most graphic portrayal of male BPD I've ever seen, starring Jason Patrick and Samantha Morton. She's a mousy, warmhearted meter maid, and he's as rageful and dysfunctional a counterpart, as you could possibly envision. Patrick's character so seamlessly shifts between kindness and cruelty, a lot of you might find it too disturbing to watch, as you may have dated a guy like this at one time or another. You'd think Cecilia Miniucchi sure must have, in order to have written/directed this story. A must see!
The Accidental Tourist is a marvelous movie that tells the story of Macon Leary, a middle-aged travel writer, whose wife leaves him after the death of their young son. William Hurt is superb as Macon, a robotic male we see going through the motions of his dreary life, just trying to make it through each day. Kathleen Turner plays Sarah, his ex--who never fails to point out his shortcomings, even post-divorce; "you know, Macon, the trouble with you is..." Geena Davis is Muriel, the quirky gal with a little boy who brings Macon back from the dead--but not without a struggle. This isn't really a film about Borderlines, but my favorite line of all time, was when Macon says to his ex-wife, who suddenly wants to revive their relationship (ahem); "I'm beginning to think that maybe it's not just how much you love someone. Maybe what matters, is who you are when you're with them." (How'd you feel about You, when you were with a borderline disordered person?)
Mother and Child is a current (May, 2010) release, and it's fabulous. Just when I started wondering "whatever happened to Jimmy Smits?" I saw this film--and there he was! Stunning performances (also) by Annette Bening, Naomi Watts, Samuel Jackson, and the entire supporting cast. Even though I was squirming in my seat and (internally) shouting; "Borderline!," I've hesitated to include it within this BPD genre, because certain characters' outcomes are improbable/unlikely. Still, I think the 'fallout' issue from adoption and natal abandonment trauma is well conceived (you should pardon the pun). Definitely worth the price of admission, but be prepared for a dramatic ride. Rodrigo Garcia wrote/directed with the same superb flair he's brought to HBO's In Treatment (see below).
Nurse Jackie on Showtime. She lies, she's drug addicted, she triangulates her primary relationship with an extramarital affair, manipulates her best friend, and brings sheet cake home for her kids at dinnertime. Need I say more? The splendidly talented Edie Falco does such justice to this character, we can't help but adore Jackie and admire her professional acumen--despite how badly she botches up her personal life.
Appaloosa is a simple, but sublime western that's rich with sexual nuance, masculine loyalty, and a perfect little Borderline portrayed by Renee Zellweger. Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen are superb as lawmen who unwaveringly choose to go where most men fear to tread. Ya gotta see this one--but watch it to the very end, and listen to the lyrics in the song that's playing while the credits are rolling!
(500) Days of Summer is a guy meets girl story, with some interesting twists and turns. A client of mine said this film replicated his relationship experiences with his last girlfriend, to the letter. Seemingly soft-peddled, perhaps because its creator is still holding onto a glimmer of hope that his Obsession will one day return (aren't most men, who've been seduced by a Borderline?) he dexterously weaves this yarn in such a way, that the love of his life appears sane and whole at the end. Zooey Deschanel plays the girl who doesn't believe in love throughout this movie. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the love-sick guy who apparently doesn't want to accept that--or trust his instincts. Well written by Scott Newstadter and Michael H. Weber, and great direction by Marc Webb.
Obsessed is the (2009) story of a borderline disordered office temp, who wants to be a permanent fixture at her job, and in her married boss's life. Ali Larter (Lisa) is over the top (and borderline) as a gorgeous, wacky gal who won't take 'no' for an answer, when her seduction ploys fail miserably. Beyonce Knowles is the devoted wife, who's too short on trust where her husband's concerned--in fact, it seems her character's a bit off-center too! Handsome Idris Elba plays the hounded husband who can't seem to shake off the insanely stalking Lisa--or convince his wife that he's the victim of sexual harassment.
Bliss is a 1997 film I saw ages ago, and thought it was pretty terrific back then (before I'd even heard of Borderlines). I was lucky enough to catch it again on cable the other night, and view it through different lenses so to speak. It's heavy, it's deep, and astute in revealing what can come of a female who's been incested in childhood. Terence Stamp is the sex therapist, 'Balthazar' who appears to have a better sense of how to assist adult children of sexual abuse than anyone else--although I wouldn't sanction his approach as prudent or effective for healing BPD. Craig Sheffer and Sheryl Lee play the newlyweds seeking couples therapy, during which it's revealed that she's been "faking" her orgasms. Lance Young superbly directed this intriguing movie.
White Oleander is just chock-full of Borderlines! Michelle Pfeiffer is a BPD mother who gave birth way too young, resented having to care for her baby (all too common, unfortunately), and treats men like they're disposable. Alison Lohman wonderfully portrays the enmeshed daughter, who steadily tries to surmount her mother's rejecting and engulfing cycles and maintain her own emotional equilibrium. Robin Wright is a seductive, jealous, borderline foster care mom who does more harm than good for this poor gal who's just trying to find her footing. Renee Zellweger is superb (as usual), but falls victim to a narcissistic husband (Noah Wiley) with borderline traits. This is an intricate, sophisticated film about struggle, and the will to triumph and thrive--not just survive.
Breakfast at Tiffany's circa 1961. Just saw it again after more years than I want to admit to, and it takes the cake. Audrey Hepburn's "Holly Golightly" is The Waif with a Queenly twist. She uses men like facial tissues, changes her identity, acts devastated one minute and jubilant the next, and is basically your captivating, emotionally ambivalent, run of the mill Borderline with serious attachment issues (poor kitty!). Truman Capote really nailed BPD in this story, but had no clue as to what he was actually portraying in this character--which is evident in the unrealistic ending! Good film with George Peppard, and a great supporting cast (look for Mickey Rooney).
Interview stars Steve Buscemi (who also co-wrote and directed it) and Sienna Miller. He's a serious journalist who's relegated to writing "fluff pieces" for his magazine's editor--and he's hating every minute of it. Miller's 'Katya' is a famous actress being interviewed by Buscemi, who's convinced she's an airhead. The interview turns into an all-night ordeal that takes us on a fantastic ride that may hit a little too close to home for those of you who've tried to keep your balance in one of these relationships. Katya is the quintessential Borderline in this fascinating piece, and she does it with such convincing aplomb, you start to wonder if it's just another day in the life of this woman! Her character is seductively bright, alluring and engaging, but replete with all the lying and shape-shifting that typically comes with BPD terrain. An intriguing power struggle ensues between these two, and you keep wondering who will come out on top--but you just can't stop watching. A tour de force in the acting department, to be sure--and brilliantly directed.
Boxing Helena got a lot of bad press when it opened. Folks unfairly boycotted it, without ever seeing the movie. Ridiculous! I especially liked it for its psychological underpinnings. Boxing Helena takes us on a man's painfully obsessional journey with a provocative woman--and cleverly reveals (early in the story) how and why he keeps heading down this tunnel that has no cheese. Good little film with Sherilyn Fenn (Helena), and Julian Sands as the love-sick surgeon. Jennifer Lynch (David's daughter) directed, and I thought this was a great first effort.
Casino with Robert DeNiro and Sharon Stone, is the exciting tale of a (Jewish) casino owner, who's vastly successful in the early years of Las Vegas, despite mob entanglements and an alluring, charismatic, seductive Borderline (played by Stone). Her character, Ginger is as close to textbook BPD as you can get, with the lies, betrayals, drug/alcohol abuses, histrionics, attachment to a former love who's a loser (James Woods)--and to top it all off, she's a lousy mother. Joe Pesce plays a sociopath in his role, much like the loose cannon he was in Goodfellas. Nobody does it better.
Bad Influence casts James Spader as a too good guy, who meets up with Rob Lowe--a handsome, daring, charismatic, identity-shifting borderline bad-boy, without boundaries or impulse control (what a surprise). Naturally, Spader's character 'Michael' is initially intrigued and seduced by the other's confidence and self-assurance, for these qualities are so lacking in himself (sound familiar?). This sort of attraction toward Borderlines is common. We're drawn to personality aspects in them, that are missing in ourselves.
The Last Seduction is one of my favorites! Can't resist settling in (when I'm channel surfing) and watching the rest, until it ends. Even the music is hypnotic for me. Linda Fiorentino as the Borderline (probably a Witch type) playing opposite the always brilliant Peter Berg, and Bill Pullman as her husband. Delightful, diabolical and definitely a divine romp!
Sleuth pits Michael Caine, an aging author of detective novels, against Jude Law, who's banging his (much younger) wife. Jude's character is a hair dresser/wannabe actor who's cocky about his BPD seduction skills--and uses them to play both sides against the middle, for his own gain. Nasty.
Secretary brings us Maggie Gyllenhaal as the most adorable, affable Borderline of all. She's addicted to physical pain (cutting/burning) to escape her emotional anguish--and finds a man (James Spader) who's intrigued with domination and supplying a bit of it, while she's under his employ. This quirky little gem is one of my all-time favorites. It perfectly balances its dramatic undertones with a smashing good time.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona has a superb cast, and I loved this movie! Javier Bardem is incredibly sexy (if I were 25 years younger, he'd be in big trouble), and Scarlett Johansson is terrific as Cristina, the girl who only knows what she doesn't want--which is a love that's stable and lasting (remind you of anyone you know?). Rebecca Hall is splendid as the complex Vicky, who knows exactlywhat she wants--until she lets her guard down with Bardem's Juan Antonio. Penelope Cruz is gorgeous, but highly unstable as Maria Elena, the ex-wife of Juan Antonio. She shows up out of the blue (as Borderlines do), when a failed rebound romance prompts her near-fatal suicide attempt, by overdose. And who's there to pick up the pieces, despite his new love affair with Cristina? Yep, you guessed it--her reliable rescuer, Juan Antonio! Cruz's character is bisexual, which isn't all that unusual among Borderlines--but her pre-divorce instability re-emerges, when there's only two, rather than three players in this menage a trois. By the way, Cristina also has borderline personality traits.
Body Heat is another film I just can't resist watching when it's on cable. Intricate plot--a sort of Double Indemnity theme, with Kathleen Turner (sizzling hot), William Hurt, Richard Crenna--and a delightfully surprising role inhabited by Ted Danson. This one will keep you guessing, and a bit confused--but you're probably used to that by now. A must see.
Romeo is Bleeding with the spectacular Lena Olin, as the most capricious, diabolical and dangerous Borderline that's hit the screen in years. Whew! It's another of my favorites, starring Gary Oldman--and it'll keep you on the edge of your seat for the entire ride.
Basic Instinct starred Sharon Stone and Michael Douglas. It was fraught with turbulence and tension, and Stone's provocative performance amped up the volume on this film's popularity--especially, her interrogation scene. And talk about being on the edge of your seat... yeowie!
Mommie Dearest is an autobiographical account written by (adopted) daughter Christina--about her mother, actress Joan Crawford. Crawford could be considered a Borderline Witch/Queen, whose erratic, controlling and sadistic behaviors tortured and tormented her children.
A Perfect Murder casts Michael Douglas as a narcissistic Borderline (is there any other type?) who paints himself into a financial corner, and plots to have his wife (Gwyneth Paltrow) murdered, so he can inherit her fortune. Viggo Mortensen is splendid as the talented artist who preys on wealthy women, and has an illicit affair with Paltrow's character, Emily.
Loverboy features Kyra Sedgwick, as an emotionally incestuous, enmeshed borderline mother, who cannot allow her son to separate/individuate to form a healthy, autonomous sense of Self. This is a brilliant performance that may teach you a lot about enmeshment and codependency issues. Recently ran into Ms. Sedgwick; she's extremely gracious--and utterly stunning. A total beauty.
Lonely Hearts tells the (factual) story of two Borderlines who take up with each other, and wreak havoc and destruction wherever they go. Salma Hayek is superb as the damaged, incested young woman who's looking for love in all the wrong places. Jared Leto plays the Casanova whose seduction skills are trumped by an irresistible and compelling Hayek. John Travolta and James Gandolfini are detectives, in hot pursuit of this killing couple (pun intended).
Gaslight was released in 1944 (an oldie but goodie), and tells the story of a male borderline who manipulates his wife (played by Ingrid Bergman) into thinking she's going crazy. He dims the gaslights in their house, and convinces her she's imagining it (hence the title), along with a whole lot of other stuff he's conjured up to undermine her sense of reality/sanity. 'Gaslighting' is a term that describes the crazy-making interactions commonly used by Borderlines, to make their partners think that they're the ones who are going nuts! I happened on a site that illustrates this issue extremely well--but mistakenly references this pathology as narcissistic, rather than borderline disordered. Still, I think you'll benefit from visiting.
Fatal Attraction portrays borderline pathology exquisitely! We see Alex--a successful, seductive businesswoman, played by Glenn Close--whom by the way, is cast (again) as a diabolical Borderline in TV's FX series, Damages; she's older now--but no less lethal. Anyway, Michael Douglas plays a married man who's had a brief affair with Alex, and finds that (true to borderline nature) she's the gum on his shoe, he just can't shake off. Her lying, stalking, bunny boiling, murderous rampages aren't unusual for someone diagnosable with Borderline Personality Disorder. She slits her wrists, and even fakes a pregnancy to entrap him! The reality is, many of these women are inmates on death row at various penitentiaries around the world. Excellent supporting role by Anne Archer, as the betrayed wife.
Monster shows us the more savage and brutal side of borderline pathology. It's a superbly crafted film that stars Charlize Theron as a grimy, chunky lesbian, who coerces men into paying her for sex--and then kills them. Brave choice for Theron, who impeccably immerses herself in this role.
Mother's Boys is a 1994 psychodrama starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Peter Gallagher. She's an estranged wife who plots to sabotage her husband's plans to remarry. Jamie's 'Jude' is a vengeful, psychotic Borderline who will stop at nothing to derail her soon-to-be ex and his lover--regardless of having abandoned her family a few years before! She tries to recruit their twelve year old son to carry out her diabolical plan to derail his father's new union, and destroy the woman he loves. A must see!
In Treatment is HBO's fantastic series about a psychologist and his patients. We get to be the proverbial fly on the wall during their sessions, and I must say, this is the first series I've considered to be a solid learning tool for psychotherapists. Poor Dr. Paul Weston (Gabriel Byrne) has more than his fair share of narcissistic and borderline disordered patients in his practice, but he handles their acting-out with extraordinary self-restraint, insight and care. Paul is brilliant in treatment--but clueless about his own narcissism, and interpersonal relationship issues that are prompted by his blind spots (despite efforts by his therapist, Diane Wiest--who's marvelous as 'Gina'). The second season features talented Hope Davis as 'Mia' who crosses boundaries all over the place, and continually goads the doctor into rejecting/abandoning her, because while this is her deepest fear, if it's gonna happen, she's got to be the one in control of that pain! In the third season, Paul has a new analyst 'Adele' (Amy Ryan) and we get to see how self-sabotaging and resistant to treatment he really is. His lack of boundaries, diminishing/idealizing behaviors, disordered thoughts and incongruent verbal responses with his shrink, all suggest BPD traits.
The Tudors is Showtime's sensational epic series. Jonathan Rhys Meyers is brilliant as the so very borderline Henry VIII, but his second wife Anne Boleyn gave him a real run for his money--a Borderline pas de deux.
V is for Visitors, and if you've been watching this series on ABC, you might be thinking it comes awfully close to portraying the Borderline archetype--and you'd be right! Beneath their seemingly benevolent, humanesque forms, these gorgeous aliens are dangerous reptiles. Anna (the Queen) is manipulative, cunning and devoid of emotions, but that's typical of The V--even though they're incredibly adept as mimicking human feelings and traits! In a recent episode, one of the characters says; "that's what Anna does--she takes our emotions, and uses 'em against us." Sound familiar? Some sets are rich with vaginal imagery, and I figure this stuff just has to be intentional; kudos to the production designer. When Lisa lies to her Queen Mother about failing to seduce Tyler into living aboard the V-ship, Anne whacks her in the face, and orders both her legs to be broken, stating; "there's no greater incentive for a human male, than a damsel in distress." I was delighted with this waif reference--and nearly laughed myself off the bed.
Grey's Anatomy is just chock full of borderline acting-out. In my BPD Forum, I speak to Izzie's wacky relationship antics, but I have a new piece this season--and remember, you heard it here first: Poor Owen, who's shell-shocked and suffering with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) appears borderline disordered! Right from the start, his come here/go away (Dr. Jekyll - Mr. Hyde) behaviors with Cristina should have been a big fat warning signal--but then, we'd be missing out on all that drama to follow. Thank heavens she's finally waking up--or more accurately, realizing that it's far too risky to sleep!
Are you finding this information helpful? Might you consider making a donation to keep this material available online for others who can benefit from it as you have? Your generosity is greatly appreciated. Thanks very much!