Will (Ben Foster) and his teenage daughter, Tom (Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie), have lived off the grid for years in the forests of Portland, Oregon. When their idyllic life is shattered, both are put into social services. After clashing with their new surroundings, Will and Tom set off on a harrowing journey back to their wild homeland. The film is directed by Debra Granik from a script adapted by Granik and Anne Rosellini.Written by
The recurring theme of the seahorse is a callback to Will's disorder.
PTSD is caused by a "blown-out" hippocampus, which in turn is caused by an over-stimulated amygdala, the organ that produces terror. In a healthy brain, the hippocampus double-checks the source of an alarm and switches off the amygdala if not judged urgent. This is nearly instantaneous, so that the person may not even be aware a terror prompt has occurred before the hippocampus cancels it.
In PTSD sufferers, the hippocampus has been burned out by one or more intensely traumatic events, so that the amygdala keeps pumping terror prompts into the neural system over and over, with little or no interference. Hence the experience of flashbacks (sudden irrational terror originating from a trigger sensed by the amygdala, but possibly not even known to the victim).
"Hippocampus" is also the classic/poetic word for seahorse. The hippocampus in the brain is called that because it's shaped like a seahorse. See more »
In the Washington cabin, Will is planning a route to town and says "Follow the creek, across the ridge". Will would be aware that creeks cannot cross ridges because one side would be uphill. See more »
I think it might be easier on us if we try to adapt.
We're in their clothes. We're in their house. We're eating their food. We're doing their work. We have adapted.
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This is a story with no antagonist, only the harm caused to one loving father's mind by his military service. It is focussed and deep, showing how some things can't be fixed, and some things have to change. The performances are strong, with the tension always threatening to shatter the veneer of control and love.
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