Virginia Filmmaker’s Journey of Overcoming Loss
The short film “Bottled” explores the all too timely ideas of sadness, loss and suffering.
Anyone who’s ever struggled with depression can relate to “Bottled.” In just 9 short minutes, Virginia native Christine Sloan Stoddard explores the self-destructive and seemingly inescapable nature of grief and sadness and the small but miraculous moments that can happen once you take the first steps to overcome your sorrow.
The opening seconds of the film paint a grim, but all too familiar picture. A young woman is reading her grandfather’s obituary, and shortly after begins to sleep … and sleep … and sleep. To combat this, she begins leaving notes to remind herself to start doing basic tasks again like bathing. While she’s researching ways to overcome her grief, she learns many have seen success by talking to their deceased loved ones. No dice. However, once she pushes herself to leave her depressed slump and go to the beach, fate presents her with a similar and more effective alternative.
Someone who’s never dealt with loss or depression will probably consider the young woman lazy. She lies alone in her dull and depressing bedroom for days on end, doing next to nothing and even needs to leave written reminders for herself to complete the simplest of tasks. But those who have walked in the young woman’s shoes will know better.
This young woman has been faced with a crushing reality. Someone who walked through life with you, someone you, knew, trusted and understood is gone. They will never come back. The only way to escape that feeling is to escape the entire world. The young woman isn’t weak because she’s doing next to nothing, she’s strong because—despite the fact that she’s facing next to insurmountable grief—she has the willpower to constantly seek out new ways to escape her suffering. And once she works up the motivation to go back out into the world, fate finds a way to pull her out of the pit. “Bottled” is a story about standing up to grief, not succumbing to it.
This film comes at a perfect time when many of ours are facing our own uphill battles with grief, not over the death of a loved one, but the death of our social lives. COVID-19 has reshaped and restructured our entire society for the worse. The small pleasantries we took for granted, like exchanging smiles with strangers at the grocery store, have been stripped from us, placing many of us in a similar situation to the woman in “Bottled.” It’s much easier for us to give up on our ambitions and seek a means of escape from the socially-distanced hellscape that’s become our lives. Suddenly, people of all backgrounds have found themselves in a similar situation as the young woman in this film, and this allows “Bottled” to appeal to a wider audience than the niche art film crowd it was intended for.
The film’s biggest problem is the result of its short runtime. The ending becomes easily predictable, as shortly before the film comes to a close, Stoddard alludes to the source of her recovery. Leaving hints for the viewer works well in films that are 90 minutes long, but hints in a nine-minute film will remain fresh in the viewer’s mind and spoil the ending. However, increasing the runtime would likely increase the film’s budget, which is often not an option for independent filmmakers.
Overall, “Bottled” is a moving and thought-provoking experience that paints a vivid and relatable picture of depression, but reminds the viewer that self-care can and does pay off, even if it doesn’t seem like it at first glance.
Watch “Bottled” on Amazon Prime now.