Keep It Quiet

By Yaya | Drama
A veterinarian keeps her depression a secret from everyone. But she can't take it.

Corey is a veterinarian who lives with her grown daughter and works in an animal clinic. She also is suffering from severe depression, which she struggles to keep hidden from her family and friends.

She navigates many small but cutting indignities and challenges as she looks after everyone but herself. But soon she reaches her breaking point and contemplates the worst.

Written and directed by Yaya, this powerful, thoughtful short drama tackles the weighty topics of depression and suicidality as its main character struggles to conceal her mental health struggles from the world around her. Many narratives tackle these issues, but this short offers a unique angle, grounding its story in Corey's quotidian reality and dramatizing the efforts to hide it.

Corey is a very relatable, everyday character, and the storytelling carefully builds a series of tableaux that illustrates her life. These scenes -- often shot in wide frames, composed in slightly abstract, removed framings and often favoring overhead shots -- function as a group of snapshots that offer different angles on Corey's character and circumstances.

She's a put-down daughter with a casually cruel father in one; a warm and competent veterinarian in another. Corey is often pictured off-center or tucked away in the back of the scene as if she's in danger of being marginalized in her own life. It is a richly variegated portrait, but it also captures the essential numbness at the core of her existence.

The approach could be potentially distant and overly cerebral, but actor Rusty Schwimmer grounds viewers with a phenomenal performance that feels lived-in, genuine and precise. As Corey's suffering magnifies and she has a harder time hiding it, she starts to spiral, reaching a point of desperation. Suicide, for her, isn't a wish for death, but a longing to stop the suffering that has become overwhelming.

Many performances of depression portray it as sadness or listlessness, but Schwimmer's portrayal -- and the gift of "Keep It Quiet" -- gets at a fundamental truth of depression. More than just sadness or "feeling down," it's profound loneliness, isolation and hopelessness. It also portrays how easy it is for people to hide it, and how many people around someone with depression simply don't pay attention enough to notice it. Yet ultimately this concealment only leads to more isolation, compounding the psychological weight until it gets unbearable. Corey reaches that point, but the film's unique ending foils her attempt, offering a much-needed catharsis for both Corey and the audience. Facing the depth of feeling within, there's finally space for some fragile hope -- and gratitude for the strange interventions of fate.

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