Costa Botes’ portrait of New Zealand writer Michael Morrissey is indeed a tiger-ride – an up-close encounter with an extremely intelligent man in the grip of bipolar disorder.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2011
It’s also a harrowing portrait of marriage vows tested to the extreme. Morrissey was diagnosed with manic depression in 1999 but long rejected available medication, believing it would stymie his genius. Having failed to find a publisher for his written account, he invited the filmmaker into his house to record his battle to ‘tame the tiger’ through willpower. Botes gives full reign to his subject’s convictions, clearly staggered by the phenomenally rapid idea association taking place when ‘the genius’ is on a manic talking jag. But he also keeps a prudent distance. His footage of Morrissey in full flight should surely convince any remaining romanticists that there is nothing creative about being bipolar. Michael Morrissey, reportedly shocked into accepting medication when he saw himself, is unlikely to be alone in benefiting from this brave and terrifying film. — BG