Directed by: Draper Shreeve
Starring: Ann Webster, Ellen Lerner, Rob Phelps
Documentary Film Review by Jack Bottomley
Everything Matters is not only the title but also the philosophy of this compassionate and inspiring documentary that prioritises people and their experiences. Across the many documentary features that are released year upon year, you can witness a great number that recite the tales of some extraordinary people. This type of cinema really is a gathering ground for remarkable human life stories and in Draper Shreeve’s excellent film we see another, as a number of individuals who, through great pain, illness and stress, have fought to live and this film spreads their experiences.
Centred around the work of health psychologist Dr. Ann Webster, this film sees her catch up with some of her previous patients, who have defied some very overbearing odds and who recall their ordeals (and triumphs) in - and mostly out - of their time in therapy. Starting with Webster telling us about how she started on this whole new direction in her life (altering courses from her fashion background into something that she realized mattered so much more), you immediately understand the compassion and emotion that is to - and does - follow. Across a group of strong people and an understanding professional, Everything Matters looks at how great adversity and struggle (in this case illness and anxiety) can in fact teach you the skills that you need to continue living and surviving life.
Above: the official movie trailer for Everything Matters.
Be it sexual identity, age or background, all these people in this very considered film have many other things going on in their lives but through the great negativity of sickness, they have forged something more positive (from making passions become a reality or forming new beautiful friendships built on support) and in many ways that is the ultimate testament to the power of voice. All this positivity amounts to listening and this film is built upon that idea and instead of probing into its subjects, the film instead acts as a megaphone for them to recount their lives as they wish. Despite what some may think, this is not an attack on the science of the modern technological medical profession (though some of the victims’ stories do not shy away from how certain treatment can breed new problems), instead it is a statement on how important it is to hear what people have to say, to talk to them and to allow people the platform to be themselves and share their accounts.
Dr. Webster’s journey re-kindling her connection to these past patients makes for a very warm and somewhat affirming watch and whatever views people have of differing therapies, this film shows how survival is possible and how great passion can come off the back of great grief. As the film progresses, we hear these different recollections but the central theme remains deeply kind, humane and spiritual, in that it may even urge viewers with similar battles to not give in and to speak out about how they feel and who they are. These people may have met through Dr. Webster’s mind and body programme but this therapy was in many ways the start of an unexpectedly positive future, in which these people have tackled their own stressors and lived defiantly in the face of life changing experience.
As the film reaches its well-shot climax, Shreeve comes to focus on the future and the many different things these people have done since their therapy with Dr. Webster and ruminate on the true nature of hope. Ending with a truly optimistic and soulful string of closing moments, we have illustrated before us that hope can absolutely take many forms and sometimes can only be attained by suffering. If there is one thing we must take away from a film like Everything Matters it is just that...everything matters.