Happy Sad Man film review: talking men’s mental health

John in Happy Sad Man.
John in Happy Sad Man.

THERE is a prevalent stereotype that men do not like to talk about their feelings.

With this documentary Happy Sad Man, Australian filmmaker Genevieve Bailey shows maybe it is simply that no one asks men how they are feeling.

In the film she talks to five men all either living with mental illness or around those with mental illness such as Ivan, a farmer who works with rural men’s health groups.

Grant is a surfer diagnosed with bipolar disorder, David an artist who experiences anxiety and Jake a photographer and community worker in war zones who has been diagnosed with PTSD.

John, who she has known since she made a short documentary about him at film school, is also diagnosed with bipolar disorder and he inspired the title of the film, with Bailey describing him as the happiest and saddest man she has ever met.

Each man talks about their experience with mental health with great candour, sharing ways in which they have overcome the associated struggles whether that be through their work, family, community groups or raising awareness to help others also going through the same experiences.

The documentary is mainly observational and because it is so personal to the experiences of these five men, it cannot touch on all aspects of how masculinity and mental health intersect.

But it is a timely reminder that sometimes people just need someone willing to sit down with them and listen.


Happy Sad Man (M)

Director: Genevieve Bailey

Three and half stars

Review by Lucy Rutherford

Showing at Luna Leederville and Palace Paradiso from November 14

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