Fluctuating at random between standard-issue celebrity docu and principled bid to de-stigmatize mental illness, “Running From Crazy” is afflicted with a sort of multiple personality disorder. The pic follows actor-turned-activist Mariel Hemingway, granddaughter of Ernest, as she reckons with a family legacy of depression and alcoholism, with seven of her relatives having committed suicide. Hemingway, whose acclaimed turn in “Lipstick” at age 13 inspired the lifelong jealousy of her late sister Margaux, opens herself courageously to director Barbara Kopple’s camera. But the narratively jumbled film, airing later this year on OWN, features too many scenes that amount to mere stargazing.The film’s most riveting depictions of the Hemingway clan were shot in 1983 by Margaux, whose death by suicide goes oddly unmentioned until the halfway point. Another sister, known in the family as Muffet, appears late in the pic, visited by Mariel, who intriguingly admits to difficulty dealing with her mentally ill sibling, although Kopple, as elsewhere, doesn’t push the issue. A disturbingly raw exchange between Mariel and her rock-climbing b.f. and business partner, Bobby Williams, passes without comment, while the pic underplays Mariel’s activist endeavors. Tech credits are adequate.
A Cabin Creek Films production. Produced by Barbara Kopple, David Cassidy. Executive producers, Erica Forstadt, Kopple, Lisa Erspamer, Oprah Winfrey. Directed by Barbara Kopple.
Camera (color, HD), Andrew Young, Michael Call, Boone Speed, Phil Parmet; editors, Michael Culbya, Mona Davis; sound, Alan Barker; re-recording mixer, Matt Gundy; visual effects, Lucjan Gorczynski; line producer, Maureen Dougherty; associate producers, Mattie Akers, Kelly Brennan. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (Documentary Premieres), Jan. 21, 2013. Running time: 100 MIN.
Mariel Hemingway, Langley Hemingway, Dree Hemingway, Joan "Muffet" Hemingway, Bobby Williams.