OC87: The Obsessive Compulsive, Major Depression, Bipolar, Asperger’s Movie is a different kind of “head trip” film: one that puts the audience in the mind of its subject and co-director, Bud Clayman, a middle-aged man inflicted with all the maladies that make up the unwieldy title.
Those like him and those who care for people like him would benefit from seeing the documentary. Whether the theater at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art — where it’s screening Friday and Saturday — is the proper venue is another matter. The film instills a message of hope, yet does so without inspiring viewers.
More educational than entertaining, and as humdrum as its title is tough to recall, OC87 seeks to “show the hell that goes on in my mind,” as Clayman puts it.
To that end, it’s
successful. Sick since 1979, Clayman opens with simple definitions for
his illnesses: OCDers crave perfection, when perfection does not exist,
while those with Asperger’s fail to “get the social rules right,” thus
causing them immense anxiety.
grasp what that’s like as he narrates his thoughts over footage of
ordinary daily situations, from taking the bus to work, to riding the
elevator up to his apartment. Most people consider these passive
routines; for Clayman, however, they can be horrors. An innocent but
lasting stare on his part could spark a fight — and has.
Then OC87 becomes a documentary about the documentary, following him as he retraces his steps in life and meets with others who suffer from the same illnesses, from a
soap actor to a news anchor. While this may be therapeutic for Clayman,
it’s only mildly interesting for us — “us” being those without these
diseases and disorders in our immediate circle.
While awkward, Clayman is functional from the start, so without an arc, OC87 lacks
the uplift you’d want and expect. Moments that seem readymade for
tugging on the ol’ heartstrings — such as Clayman reading a “gratitude
letter” aloud to his father, who once viewed his son’s sickness as
“lazy” — never do. They occur with averageness — definitely real, but
also felt that the film takes advantage of Clayman at the end. Dressed
in appropriate astro-garb, he battles himself in a green-screened,
metaphoric re-creation of his favorite Lost in Space episode. I’m sure it was a thrill for him, but I found the scene cringe-worthy, embarrassing and unnecessary.
Ultimately, the important thing is OC87 helped Clayman, and can help others. We can admire and salute his efforts without being all that moved by them.