Tonight I screened Applause, starring Paprika Steen and Michael Falch.
Thea (played by the brilliant Steen) is an alcoholic actress who has lost everything except for her career. Christian (Falch) is her kind ex-husband and the father of her two sons. He has moved on with a new, lovely woman, but still cares for Thea and wants to help her renew her relationship with their kids.
Like many troubled parents, Thea realizes that to be a good mother she must first win the fight with her demons. Although the demon here is the somewhat conventional 'alcohol' demon, her struggle metaphorically could represent anyone who has suffered from self-loathing or unresolved issues that prevent them from true happiness.
To get past this darkness and loneliness, Thea makes an honest effort to clean herself up and get to know her boys. By reaching out in a healthy way, her ex and his present girlfriend allow her visits and family time with all of them. She is grateful for this and puts down the bottle during the transition. But she can't quite ever leave her life behind—though she's not knocking back whiskey anymore, she still sits at the neighborhood bar with a mineral water. Alone. Though that life of addiction clearly makes her miserable, it is there she feels most comfortable.
Things can't be the way they used to be because everyone else has moved on. This is a devastating realization to Thea, who continues her awkward journey through motherhood for the duration of the film.
As we cringe at her missteps and sympathize with the more balanced characters in the film, it's not hard to imagine how desperate we're all made to feel when we arrive at such a place of heartache.
If we can't make peace with ourselves, what good are we to anyone else?