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Promises in the Dark

Where to Watch Promises in the Dark

PG
1979

Promises in the Dark is a 1979 drama film directed by Jerome Hellman and starring Marsha Mason, Ned Beatty, and Susan Clark. The movie revolves around Dr. Alexandra Kendall, a psychoanalyst who takes on the case of a severely disturbed and suicidal teenage girl named Sibyl. Despite the initial hesitation, Dr. Kendall is drawn to Sibyl's captivating and enigmatic personality, and they develop a deep and intense bond that impacts both of their lives in unexpected ways.

The movie starts with an introduction to Dr. Alexandra Kendall, who is a successful and respected psychoanalyst in New York City. She leads a comfortable and affluent life, but her personal relationships are in shambles, and she struggles with loneliness and a sense of detachment. One day, she is approached by Sibyl, who has been referred to her by a colleague. Sibyl is a troubled and volatile teenager with a bleak and traumatic past. Her father has abandoned her, and her mother is a neglectful alcoholic who is emotionally unavailable.

Dr. Kendall initially hesitates to take on the case, but she is intrigued by Sibyl's intelligence, wit, and deep vulnerability. They start meeting regularly, and Dr. Kendall tries to unravel the complex and multifaceted layers of Sibyl's psyche. Sibyl is a gifted artist, and she uses her art as a metaphorical expression of her inner turmoil and struggles. Dr. Kendall probes into Sibyl's family history, and they both discover some shocking and heartbreaking truths about Sibyl's past.

As the therapy progresses, Dr. Kendall becomes increasingly invested in Sibyl's well-being, and they form a powerful and unconventional bond that blurs the boundaries of professional and personal relationships. Dr. Kendall's own life is in a state of flux, as she deals with a failing marriage, a rebellious daughter, and her own existential crisis. Sibyl, on the other hand, is juggling her demons and her artistic aspirations, while also trying to find a sense of belonging and purpose in a world that has been unkind to her.

Promises in the Dark is a poignant and thought-provoking movie that explores the complexities of human relationships, mental illness, and the healing power of empathy and human connection. Marsha Mason delivers a compelling and nuanced performance as Dr. Kendall, capturing the character's intelligence, warmth, and vulnerability. She conveys the challenges and rewards of being a therapist, as well as the personal toll it takes on one's emotional and spiritual well-being.

Ned Beatty plays Dr. Leo Block, Dr. Kendall's colleague and former mentor, who provides a contrasting perspective on psychoanalytic therapy. He advocates for a more detached and clinical approach, which clashes with Dr. Kendall's more personal and intuitive style. Susan Clark portrays Anne, Dr. Kendall's friend and confidante, who is a source of comfort and support for her during the difficult times. She also serves as a foil to Sibyl, embodying a more conventional and neat image of femininity and motherhood.

The movie is directed by Jerome Hellman, who infuses it with a sense of intimacy and introspection. He uses a muted and naturalistic color palette, which captures the mood and atmosphere of the therapy sessions and the characters' inner worlds. He also interweaves surreal and dream-like sequences of Sibyl's art and inner thoughts, which provide a visual representation of her mental state and her artistic talent.

Overall, Promises in the Dark is a moving and unforgettable movie that explores the depths of human emotions and the healing power of empathy and human connection. It tells a story that is both universal and personal, grappling with the complexities of mental illness, trauma, and the human desire for love and acceptance. The performances, direction, and writing are all top-notch, making it a classic of its genre and a testament to the enduring nature of human resilience and hope.

Promises in the Dark is a Drama movie released in 1979. It has a runtime of 118 min.. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 6.5..

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6.5/10
Director
Jerome Hellman
Stars
Marsha Mason, Ned Beatty, Susan Clark
Genres
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