This afternoon I sat down, hell-bent on getting a blog post done. It’s about five thousand degrees outside so I switched on the TV. Tom and I tend to record movies off Starz and Showtime to the DVR that have interesting descriptions to watch when we have time to spare. Today I snapped on Love, Ludlow, an independent film described by Starz as, “A bipolar man tries to sabotage his sister’s budding relationship with a co-worker.” So, now, you get to hear all about it! It stars Alicia Goranson whom you might remember as Becky on Roseanne back in the 1990’s. She is Myra, a young woman from Queens trying to care for her younger brother, Ludlow, who stays home, paints, and leaves elaborate and creative suicide notes for her to find when she gets home from work. She works temp jobs and calls various government agencies to try and get services for her clearly emotionally stunted and mentally unstable brother, to no avail.
When Reggie, a shy guy at the office, asks Myra out to dinner, Ludlow isn’t pleased. He refuses to leave Myra and Ricky alone when they return from dinner, and Myra comes unglued. “Five years, Ludlow, and you couldn’t give me one night. Florence Nightingale I ain’t!” Reggie leaves and Myra gets smashed and passes out. Reggie realizes he lost his keys in the shuffle and when he returns to Myra and Ludlow’s place, Ludlow says he must spend the night to apologize to Myra in the morning. After having breakfast with Ludlow – which includes flicking the blue Trix onto the ceiling – Myra tells Reggie that their mom died five years ago, leaving Ludlow no where to go.
Reggie shows up later in the day while Myra is doing all the neighbor’s laundry for extra cash. Ludlow is with her – plastic crown and all – and is invited as well to the adventure. The night before Myra told Reggie that, while she’d lived in Queens all her life, she’d never been to the beach, so Ricky takes them there. While Myra explores the rocks and collects shells, Reggie sits with Ludlow. And Myra smiles. They drop Ludlow off at home and Myra tells Ludlow she is going to dinner with Reggie. Later she changes her mind, worried that Ludlow will feel abandoned, and they get take out and return to find that Ludlow has destroyed the apartment and is nowhere to be found. Hours later he returns from his hiding spot – the landing a single floor up – and Reggie comes unglued, telling her she coddles him, she lets him act this way. Needless to say that doesn’t go well, and Myra kicks Reggie out. “The locks on this door make no sense,” Reggie says as he leaves, “because I can’t imagine who would want to get in here.”
The next day is the five year anniversary of Myra and Ludlow’s mother’s death. After some time, Myra wants to leave and Ludlow teases her, saying she has no where to go. Myra unleashes a tirade of grief and anger and frustration at Ludlow and her mother’s grave, and leaves Ludlow there, begging him not to follow. She goes to Reggie to apologize. Reggie notes that at work, she doesn’t take crap from anyone, but at home, she lets Ludlow steamroll over her. He brushes her off, noting that he likes her, but she clearly doesn’t have room for anyone but Ludlow in her life. Myra cries and says she came to say the same, clearly hurt by Reggie’s words, even though they were kindly delivered.
When Reggie gets to work on Monday and Myra isn’t there, he tracks her down at the laundromat, telling her he wants to date her, no matter what. Ludlow screams his objections as they kiss. They ignore him and, after Reggie walks them home, Myra notes to Ludlow that she didn’t get his letter today. “I know,” Ludlow replies, “I don’t write them anymore. I’ve matured.”
It’s not the best movie I’ve seen about living with someone with mental illness, but it was cute. It seems many of these movies are either about how dismal it is until either the mentally ill person or the caregiver is dead or abandoned (Pollock, Ordinary People, Revolutionary Road), or how a third person can help the caregiver get their own life, and the mentally ill person begin to stabilize (Benny and Joon, As Good As It Gets) . If only it worked this way in real life, huh?