When Mary's (Marcia Gay Harden) mental illness puts herself and her family in jeopardy, her husband (Joe Pantoliano) and son (Devon Gearhart) helplessly watch as she is torn from the family by the police. Forced to raise ... more »a boy on his own and cope with his wife's schizophrenia, father and son learn what it is to truly be a family. Inspired by a true story, this critically acclaimed and award winning film is as full of hope and humor as it is heartbreaking performances.« less
Carol G. from JUNCTION, TX Reviewed on 8/11/2017...
I have watched this movie several times. My maternal grandmother was diagnosed with the same illness. My mother was given the task to watch over her relieving her 7 brothers and sisters of any and all responsibility. A home was bought for her in the small town nearest our rural home. My mother lived with getting phone calls from neighbors that my grandmother was threatening them by standing in the yard yelling that she was going to kill them because the voices told her that they had killed one of her children. This was a weekly if not a twice weekly event where my mother had to return her mother home. Other times she would receive a call from one of the neighbors that her mother had carried off something in the yard telling the neighbor that the "racketeers" told her that the object was my grandmother's. She had many truths that the racketeers had told her including the information that there was a poison that the refrigerator emitted into the home so my grandmother would turn off the refrigerator. When the power company saw her power go off during the day they would call my mother to check on the power situation. My mother would have to drive to town and take her mother home when she was harassing the neighbors. My grandmother ignored me and my sister. My mother would also receive calls from the local power provider that my grandmother had turned off the power to her refrigerator and my mother would go into town to see that the refrigerator was turned back on.
What was the most amazing event to me is that when my grandmother was hospitalized because of a terminal physical condition, my grandmother acted like a grandmother for the first time. She told me that there was a cafeteria where I could get something to eat if I were hungry. This was when I was an adult. I saw the grandmother that day as the grandmother she could have been and was gratified at that knowledge. She was diagnosed in that hospitalization as a schizophrenic.
Alice H. (singlegalkansas) from TOPEKA, KS Reviewed on 1/20/2009...
This was a deeply moving story. Not what I would expect of Joe Pantoliano (from the Sopranos). It is sad but very moving story of schizophrenia. With light comedy and deep drama!
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Coping with Madness
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 02/01/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"CANVAS is an autobiographical story by writer/director Joseph Greco and knowing that fact helps to forgive some of the weaknesses of the film. The story - how a family copes with the presence of paranoid schizophrenia and survives - comes from the heart and is as frank a film about the subject of mental illness as any out there. And for all the inherent tendencies to play it as a soap opera, the overriding effect is one of sharing lives challenged by the presence of a crushing disease.
Mary Marino (Marcia Gay Harden) has been afflicted with paranoid schizophrenia for nearly two years and her disease has affected her marriage to her working husband John (Joe Pantoliano in his best role to date) and her eleven year old son Chris (Devon Gearhart): John misses work to care for Mary and still pay for her mounting hospitalization and medical bills and Chris suffers abuse form his mocking school friends, frequently having to explain away his mother's erratic behavior. Mary paints (therapy) the same scene repeatedly, hears voices, and finally refuses to stay on her meds, a fact that results in her long-term hospitalization in a Psychiatric Hospital. John and Chris continue to love Mary despite the radical changes in their lives and each finds a means of coping: John goes on sick leave to build a sailboat for his wife and son in his backyard (he and Mary met and fell in love on a sailboat), and Chris takes up one of Mary's hobbies - sewing patches on shirts - and finds an audience and acceptance and income at his school. How the father and son survive and conquer their challenge presented by the mental illness of Mary serves to provide the ending to this story.
Each of the actors is excellent, especially Pantoliano. Harden is a solid actress but the script fails to capture the essence of her response to her disease. The film feels disjointed and inconsistent and has holes of undeveloped subplots and lines of thought that keep the movie grounded. But knowing that the story is true encourages the viewer to forgive the flaws and appreciate the tough subject matter that should help every viewer to better understand the effect of mental illness on a family. Grady Harp, February 08"
Wonderful performances, absorbing story.
TheBanshee | United States | 02/07/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I almost didn't see this film. I just tuned it in on Cablevision Movies on Demand. Oscar winner (for "Pollock") Marcia Gay Harden gives a bravura performance as Mary, the wife and mother who had suffered a psychotic break about 18 months before this story begins, and whose denial that she needs continuing medical help has begun to
lead her once again into bizarre behavior and paranoid delusions, to the extent that she's finally removed from her home by the local police, who have been there many times before. But Harden's portrayal is so nuanced that we can see the loving wife and mother and the scared person inside. As Mary's frustrated, but fiercly protective and loving husband John, Joey Pantoliano is first-rate. I know I've seen him in a lot of other things, but this was the film that made me realize exactly how good he is.
But Mary's illness is only part of the story. When she's hospitalized (and in the scene where John and son Chris first go to the psychiatric ward to see a heavily sedated Mary, Harden is heartbreaking), a new relationship has to be forged between Chris, who has been taunted at school about his "crazy" parents, and John, who is seriously worried about being able to pay Mary's mounting medical bills.
To me, this film is less about schizophrenia as it is about family and love, and the human connections that redeem us no matter what's happening on the outside. There is a lot of love in this film.
If you haven't seen Canvas, you should.
EDIT: There should be a soundtrack for this film, but I haven't been able to find it. Joel Goodman's score is worth hearing, and there are a couple of gorgeous songs sung by Lisbeth Scott."
Authentic Portrayal of a Child with a Schizophrenic Parent
Artist & Author | Near Mt. Baker, WA | 06/11/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have to admit that it was hard for me to watch this movie. A little seven-year-old girl somehow found our family many years ago. When we learned that her mom suffered from schizophrenia we told her that whenever her mom was off her medicine, and she didn't make a meal, this little girl should come to our house and we'd feed her. Over the years, she also slept at our house many times. Her last day of high school she ate breakfast with our kids and said she was really going to miss those times as part of our family. [She, now successful in her work, still is an important part of our family over a decade later.] As I watched this movie, it was like watching our unofficial daughter's experience all over again.
I don't think I need to say more about the authenticity of this movie. I just wish we'd had this movie when this little girl was still ten. It would have helped two ways: it would have helped her to know that other kids had to deal with the same kind of mother as she, and it would have helped her to open up to us in healthy ways so we could counsel her in ways to cope. It is extremely difficult for a child to know they should (and do) love a mother that acts irrationally. Every child who has a schizophrenic parent should see this movie; all the better if he or she sees it with an adult who is capable of counseling the child."
A View from the Life of a Working Class family
Melissa Gibbons | Fort Worth Tx | 02/14/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Canvas the Movie does what few films have done. It depicts the struggles of a family member who is experiencing paranoid schezophrenia and it show the confused but loving attempts of the family members to in some way connect to their loved one and each other."
C. Asmus | Bowling Green, Ohio United States | 03/05/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie has been viewed by several of our Nami Wood County, Ohio members and we are now ordering several more copies to be placed in our library for organizations and other family members to view. We believe it is one of the most "real life" discriptions of how mental illness affects families. It's an "oscar" to us. Carol A., President"