Mind/Game: Film Review

indexMind/Game: The Unquiet Journey of Chamique Holdsclaw (2015)
Southern Circuit
Millsaps College
February 8, 2017 7:00 pm

Mind/Game follows the life of Chamique Holdsclaw – a basketball player dubbed the “female Michael Jordan” – through her public and private battles with mental health. It tells of her childhood and her mentally ill parents who battled schizophrenia and alcoholism. From there, Chamique lived with her grandmother who emphasized the importance of education. To cope with the absence of her parents, Chamique battled it out on the court, using basketball as a form of therapy.

By her senior year, Chamique made a name for herself as one of the top high school athletes. Although she received many offers from different college, Chamique and her grandma decided that she should attend the University of Tennessee, a school known for its 100% graduation rate for basketball players.

Chamique reached a larger audience on the college court, but in her private life, she continued to cope with the loss of family members including her grandma. Although she tried to talk to a therapist, she decided that basketball was her best medicine and continued to use basketball as a coping mechanism.

Chamique continued to practice these habits well into her WNBA career. Eventually, her grief caught up with her as she attempted suicide to deal with the stress that she repressed. Although initially she was ashamed, she used this moment to speak out about mental health issues and to address the stigma associated with it in the black community.

Chamique continued to struggle with her illness leading her to leave the WNBA to focus on her mental health and her advocacy work. Although she managed to keep her mental health under control, she eventually experienced an episode that left her hurt: mentally, emotionally, and financially. Here, she received a new diagnosis, and today she continues to advocate for mental health, teaching children how to express their feelings and that it’s okay to feel.

Rick Goldsmith, the filmmaker, focuses on universal issues through personal stories. In Mind/Game he perfectly nails the Holdsclaw story while still telling the struggle of those dealing with mental health as well as the stigma associated with mental health in the black community. His documentary style includes using a lot of visuals and personal accounts to tell the story. He refrained from using copious amounts of music and allowed the people to tell their version of the stories without music persuading us about how to feel. He used news clippings, sports film, and news story to tell the life and story of Chamique Holdsclaw. Goldsmith’s approach to a documentary seems very “hands-off.” He provides the story and the personal accounts for the viewer without adding how we should act or feel, letting the characters speak for themselves.

I think this is a relevant movie for everyone as anyone could be dealing with mental health issues. This movie would be of great importance to the members of black community especially those who are unaware or are in disbelief concerning the mental health issues faced by those within the community.