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Originally published Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 4:00 PM

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Movie review

'People V. The State of Illusion': making case for self-help message

A movie review of the docudrama "People V. The State of Illusion," a "bad" movie with a good message (that we can change reality by changing our own perception of reality). If you can overlook its shortcomings and focus on the information it provides, you may find it enlightening.

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie review 2.5 stars

'People V. The State of Illusion,' a docudrama directed by Scott Cervine, from a screenplay by Austin Vickers. 86 minutes. Not rated; suitable for general audiences. Varsity.

Vickers will hold Q&A sessions after the 7:10 p.m. showings Friday and Saturday.

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Bad reviewer, and yes, movie has valid points Wish there were more movies like this... MORE
'People V. The State of Illusion' You are telling us especially socialist democrats... MORE

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A self-help infomercial presented as an inspirational docudrama, "People V. The State of Illusion" is a "bad" movie with a good message. If you can overlook its shortcomings and focus on the information it provides, you may find it highly enlightening.

The film targets the same audience that flocked to similar self-help "message" movies like "The Secret" and "What the (Bleep) Do We Know." Unlike those popular films, however, this one avoids new-agey pseudoscience and focuses on life-changing wisdom from a variety of credible experts.

The basic message — that we can change reality by changing our own perception of reality — is essentially the same message delivered by countless self-help books and videos like the PBS fundraising favorite "Change Your Brain and Change Your Life." The film explores the way many people suffer by failing to recognize their own damaging distortions of reality.

Written, produced and hosted by Austin Vickers, an attorney turned leadership trainer and life coach, "People V. The State of Illusion" combines expert testimonials with a docudrama to illustrate the notion that "reality is what you make it."

In the docudrama, a young alcoholic widower (J.B. Tuttle) gets a six-year jail sentence, and loses custody of his 11-year-old daughter, for causing a fatal DUI car crash and resisting arrest. Having hit rock bottom, he learns vital lessons from a prison janitor, gradually realizing that he'd locked himself in an emotional prison long before he landed in a real one.

As cheesy as it sounds, the docudrama is badly directed and poorly performed, but its message remains valid. Earlier this week, experts appeared on the "Charlie Rose" show to discuss the plasticity of our brains and how we can change our lives by recognizing harmful thought patterns. This film addresses that power with similarly convincing authority.

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