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Helen (2009)

Ashley Judd , Goran Visnjic , Sandra Nettelbeck  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Ashley Judd, Goran Visnjic, Lauren Lee Smith, Alexia Fast, Alberta Watson
  • Directors: Sandra Nettelbeck
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: E1 Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: August 10, 2010
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003M986TS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,018 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Helen" on IMDb

Special Features

Interviews with Ashley Judd, Goran Visnjic, Alexia Fast and Lauren Lee Smith

Editorial Reviews

“Ashley Judd’s performance is nothing short of riveting.” – The Huffington Post. On the outside, Helen (Ashley Judd) has the perfect life – a loving family, a beautiful house and a successful career – but when her suppressed mental illness resurfaces, the world crumbles around her. Crippled by depression, Helen befriends Mathilda (Lauren Lee Smith), a kindred spirit struggling with bipolar disorder. Together the two find the solace they had been seeking.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As Dark and as Static as the Illness it Depicts August 15, 2010
Format:DVD
Sandra Nettlebeck both wrote and directed this somber, intense study about clinical depression. The film is long, is a one-note song, and is in need of editing and lightening - or is it? What Nettleback has created is an atmosphere that very likely simulates the way the world is viewed and coped with by those who are suffering from suicidal depression. It is a lesson as much as it is a film.

Helen (Ashley Judd) is a popular professor of music theory, and accomplished pianist, and the wife of handsome and successful lawyer David (Goran Visnjic), and mother of a charming teenager Julie (Alexia Fast) all of whom we meet at a surprise birthday party for Helen. But very gradually Helen begins to change from the ebullient happy woman to a more quiet, pensive, obviously injured woman. Concentration fails, she cannot get enough sleep, her connection to the world begins to crumble and finally she breaks into the depths of depression. Despite the support of David and Julie and denying the medical assistance of psychiatrist Dr. Sherman (Alberta Watson), Helen continues to sink deeper into the profound sadness of clinical depression. One of Helen's students, Mathilda (Lauren Lee Smith) seems to be one of the few people with whom Helen can relate: we are lead to discover Mathilda suffers from a similar disorder. The truth about Helen's medical history finally surfaces: she has had suicidal ideation and clinical depression in her past When married before to Frank (David Hewlett) and soon after the birth of Julie (?postpartum depression?) Helen required psychiatric hospitalization, her marriage failed, and she ultimately met David who has been the ideal husband and father for Julie.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
This movie really hits home with what people that suffer from clinical depression go through, and how they shut out those that love them most, through no fault of their own, and how family members are helpless to help them. The struggle to overcome inner demons and depression is a road that is not understood by those who do not know how debilitating this illness can be. Ashley Judd gives an outstanding performance as the professor, and Goran Visnjic is so incredibly believable as her husband, who tries to reach her and help her out of her abyss. Lauren Lee Smith plays Mathilda, Helen's student who loses her mother to the same condition, and suffers from the same depression portrays her character as the lone person that is able to understand Helen, through support and presence - Excellent.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "What Is So Awful That You Won't Tell Me?" - David September 28, 2012
Format:DVD
Writer and director Sandra Nettelbeck puts forth a piece of excellence, adding to it a musical orchestration (Tim Despic and James Barker) featuring a cello with its hauntingly mournful song. The cinematography (Michael Bertyl) starts with a little light and grows ever cloudy and dark as does the entire movie.

The character development of Helen is uncustomary and meticulously portrayed by Ashley Judd. Goran Visnjic portrays David as the most caring, frustrated, bewildered and supportive husband to Helen. Mathilda (Lauren Lee Smith) has you constantly questioning if there will ever be a life worth living for her.

Needless to say, this movie is dark, painful and reflective. It explores a topic that some may wish to turn their heads from and others, like myself, are exceedingly interested in. This is not an easy view but an intense look into a very pervasive issue.

Helen is a college level professor of music married to her second husband David, an attorney. She has a teenage daughter from her first marriage. At first blush, this family looks like your every day happy trio. Until something happens to Helen which causes her to begin acting completely out of character. She starts losing track of time, forgetting what has been transpiring with her class and losing the context of the lectures she is giving while speaking. As Helen is walking down the hall in the college, she notices a lit room with a beckoning cello being played and walks curiously inside. One of her students, Mathilda, is all upset that she 'just cannot get it right'. The music isn't to her liking. Helen has a pull unawares toward her as does Mathilda at the same time.

David is noticing so many concerns at home and is very anxious about Helen's inability to sleep or eat.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant October 18, 2010
By T. Ryan
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Having lived close to the problem of bipolar depression for many years, I can say that this film captures the nuances perfectly. Bravo to the players and to the filmmaker.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great job by all the actors March 21, 2013
Format:Amazon Instant Video|Verified Purchase
"I love it" is not an appropriate response to this movie. It was extremely well done.
I watched it because my daughter has problems similar to Helen's. I hope the ECT
works for my daughter as well as it did in the movie!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Really had to stick with it January 2, 2013
By SaraG
Format:Amazon Instant Video|Verified Purchase
This was a good movie, however, it went slowly and at times was painful to watch. Ashley Judd did a FABULOUS job portraying someone with mental illness. THe movie is worth the watch just for that fact alone. I have to admit, I was determined to stick it out through the whole thing. Glad I did.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars RAW May 15, 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
EXCELLENT MOVIE WITH SO MANY LAYERS. AT TIMES IT APPEARED TO BE DISORGANIZED, HOWEVER THIS MAY BE WHAT THE MOVIE INTENDED. OVERALL - I WOULD RECOMMEND IT.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Beautiful story with a valuable message. Ashley Judd and other actors are outstanding.
Published 23 days ago by carol a brown
4.0 out of 5 stars Sad But Rewarding.
One of the better films to deal with mental illness, in this case clinical depression. May be too downbeat for some viewers, but anyone wanting to know more about this subject... Read more
Published 27 days ago by dawkins jr
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
It almost had no purpose, and lost my attention half way through
Published 1 month ago by Josephine Austin
3.0 out of 5 stars Realistic view of Major Depression
But so realistic, you will probably start feeling dark yourself.

For people with depression, this film might act as a trigger, so keep that in mind. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Comparison Shopping Consumer
5.0 out of 5 stars Ashley Judd is great
I have always enjoyed Ashley Judd's work, so I looked up her films. I had not heard or seen this one.. It is extremely good and not dated at all! I enjoyed the DVD a lot.
Published 3 months ago by Sarah S.
5.0 out of 5 stars very sad window
A very sad window to such a debilitating illness. I experienced mixed emotions with the character, anger for seeing her destroying her marriage, affecting her daughter, and then... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Ana S. Berrios
2.0 out of 5 stars IT's ok
I only picked this up because it has David Nykl in it. He is fabulous as usual, but his part is really small.
Published 4 months ago by Monica Lake
5.0 out of 5 stars Want to share this with others
I could not believe I was watching my life on screen. No one has ever portrayed medication resistant depression and the path it takes so well. Brilliant acting. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Carol L. Grant
5.0 out of 5 stars This movie depicts my life.
I feel like that everyday. I can relate. If only the people I love could watch this movie, maybe they would understand me.
Published 4 months ago by Gladys Kowalski
1.0 out of 5 stars so sad
Helen is one of worst movies we ever saw. And I like Ashley Judd.
My wife: if you weren't even close to being depressed you would be after you saw this.
Published 4 months ago by eddy hammerquist
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