Since I seem to be on a sort of nostalgia kick lately, let me add one more to the mix, and in light of conversations we’ve had on this blog about the dearth of movies that tackle mental illness in the black community (partly spurred on by recent films like Jono Oliver’s powerful “Home” which stars Gbenga Akinnagbe, and even Halle Berry’s “Frankie & Alice”)…
Now I will admit openly that I have never been a fan of Diana Ross as an actress (so go ahead and shoot me…), but I have to say that there is one thing she’s done that absolutely impressed and convinced me that she had the goods to be a truly wonderful actress (maybe even a great one); I’m talking about the now sadly forgotten 1994 ABC TV movie “Out Of Darkness.”
In the film, Ross played a once promising medical student who battles with schizophrenia for almost 20 years. Eventually, after therapy and intense work, she’s seemingly “cured” and starts a new life, even getting involved in a romantic relationship with a new man. Unfortunately, when everything seems to be going great, she falls again into the abyss, losing everything.
Aside from Ross giving a tremendous and truly heartbreaking performance, the other great thing about the film was its unflinching look at mental illness. It also fortunately avoided the typical sappy, Hollywood happy ending. By the end of the film, Ross’ symptoms have disappeared, for the time being, but the boyfriend, who’d left, never returns, and she’s forced to learn that she has to live her life day-by-day, and be grateful for any “normalcy” she’s able to experience.
The film was heralded as a superb work, and though it promised a comeback for Ross to acting, that unfortunately didn’t materialize. She earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a TV Movie at the 52nd Golden Globe Awards in 1995.
The movie was released overseas on DVD, but not in the US (and it doesn’t appear to have ever been released in the US), so most of you probably haven’t seen it. But you’re in luck, because the entire film was uploaded to YouTube “for educational purposes” as the uploader states, so you really ought to take the time to see it. It’s Diana’s shining moment.
Watch the 90-minute film below: