Mark is an architect living in
London, and he has obsessive-compulsive disorder. His marriage is on the rocks, and he and his wife are trying a
trial separation. He is also losing his
job. He is obsessed about having clean
hands and avoiding dangers and dirt, he has to check his apartment to make sure
the gas is off, and he has difficulty with moving across thresholds. He also has Tourette's, which causes him to
have facial tics and to curse at inappropriate times, expressing his feelings
of frustration, and also to bark like a dog at points of great stress. However, he has not identified the nature of
his strange behavior, and his doctor just tells him he is depressed. Then he meets Charlotte who also has OCD and
she explains it to him. She even takes
him to a self-help group for people with OCD, which is a bizarre experience for
him. Mark starts to get more insight
into his problems, but he is not able to control his behavior any better. He obsesses about his wife and becomes
extremely jealous when she starts getting involved with other men. His life deteriorates and he becomes more
While mental illness is often a terrible
experience, and it can ruin people's lives, it can be funny too. Psychiatrists sometimes joke with each other
about their patients, and this should not mistaken for laughing at their
patients. It can be a way of
empathizing with their patients' problems, and also a way of letting off
steam. People who behave in odd ways
often joke about it themselves, which can relieve their embarrassment about it
or help them bond with other people over it.
Those who are alarmed that Dirty Filthy Love is a comedy about
serious mental illness should be reassured that it is a very compassionate
portrayal and we are led to sympathize with Mark all the way through the film,
even when he is at his most bizarre.
The storyline is pretty conventional, but it has several strong
emotional moments involving not only Mark but also the other members of the OCD
group. Much of the film is actually
quite sad, and some moments are upsetting.
The film ends on a hopeful note, however.
The DVD has no commentary, but
there is a short piece with interviews with cast and crew. The acting is strong, especially by Michael
Sheen playing Mark.
© 2006 Christian Perring. All
Christian Perring, Ph.D., is
Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island, and editor
of Metapsychology Online Review. His main research is on
philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.