I really, really tried to enjoy “Pure O,” writer-director Dillon Tucker‘s film about his real life journey after being diagnosed with a crippling form of OCD. There is very little to enjoy about this project, and Tucker obviously thinks his personal story is more interesting to audiences that it actually is. Not trying to sound uncaring here, but the film is going to be more meaningful to Tucker and his close friends and family, not to outsiders looking in. It’s not entirely unsalvageable, but the very boring and drawn out first half is more of a chore than an escape. This is a film that simply makes you feel bad.
Cooper (Daniel Dorr) has a good life. He works as a counselor at a drug rehab center and spends his time helping others heal. His world is turned upside down when he is given the diagnosis of pure obsessional obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), an affliction that is characterized by intrusive thoughts, images or urges of harm and shame. Struggling to keep it together a for his fiancée Emily (Hope Lauren), co-workers, and clients, Cooper must accept his new vulnerabilities in order to connect with others.
There are some real positives here, including an authentic depiction of the ways mental health can affect both the patient and their loved ones, and the subjects of addiction, grief, and rehabilitation are presented with genuine care. It’s a story of a mental disorder that features many scenes of therapy sessions (which again, these may be personally important to the filmmaker, but they certainly aren’t enjoyable to watch).
One scene is so disturbing that I certainly hope it isn’t based on truth because if it is, the therapist in question needs to have her license revoked immediately. In it, an intense therapy session is recreated where Cooper is instructed to hold a knife to his partner’s wrist and then her throat. It’s reckless at best and dangerous at worst, and the metal anguish and trauma this could cause someone is off the charts. This, among other scenes in the film, may be triggering to those currently or formerly suffering with mental issues.
The film is very messy, meandering all over the place in terms of storytelling, and it’s far too long. There’s about a half hour worth of good story here, and the first chunk of the movie is a chore. It picks up steam towards the end but by then, all the good will earned has been long burned. Add to that a series of grossly amateurish performances and unlikable characters, and “Pure O” is an almost total washout.
By: Louisa Moore