LEAGACY – drama
The specter of her grandmother’s mental illness torments Jenny as she becomes a new mother, unsure if she’s fit to raise a child.
In the 1930’s Sophie Adler battles mental illness and becomes one of the first patients treated with Lithium. A generation later, her granddaughter battles demons of her own and finds strength in the diary Sophie left behind.
Jenny Morgan, a young Soho art dealer, is about to give birth to her first child. She and her husband Max do all the right things; prepare the nursery, take Lamaze classes, but all is not as it seems. Jenny hides her growing fear of motherhood from Max, family, and friends including Marcie Shanrock, a co-worker at the art gallery. Jenny’s mother Beth Rider, tries to reconnect with her daughter through the shared experience of pregnancy, but their already strained relationship is not strong enough to bear the extra weight.
Jenny’s great aunt, Hattie Goodman, gives Jenny a dresser once owned by Jenny’s deceased grandmother (and Hattie’s’ sister,) Sophie Adler. In it, Jenny finds a diary left behind by Sophie, which recounts her battle with mental illness and the barbaric treatments she suffered in the 1930’s and 40’s, a time when mental illness was swept under the rug. The diary adds fuel to the flames of Jenny’s fears that she is destined to follow her grandmother’s path. In the 1930’s Sophie’s husband Henry attempts to go on as if nothing is wrong and provide for his wife and two young children, but Sophie’s illness and the Great Depression interrupt his plans. In time, Henry is forced to make an impossible choice; lobotomize his wife, or live with the consequences. The aftermath of these decisions, in a way, shape the future relationship of Beth and Jenny. As a child Beth learns that even though she fiercely loves Sophie, her mother, she must keep her own heart protected. In the present, Jenny does the same. The more those who love her try to help, the more she pulls away. Max does the best he can, but hides behind the notion that all will be resolved ‘once the baby gets here.’
History seems to repeat itself when Jenny’s baby girl, whom she names Sophie, does arrive. The pressure around Jenny finally gets to her. The new baby, Max’s frustration, and symbolically, Marcie’s failure to reach a personal goal, send Jenny over the edge. She sinks further and further into the depths of depression. Just as Sophie was sent for a cure in psychiatric wards, Jenny is hospitalized for mental illness. The treatments of the women are different, but their outcomes are the same.
In their own way, and in their own time, Sophie and Jenny find the strength with them to overcome their ailments and survive. In the end, Jenny learns that she is destined to follow her grandmother’s path, the path of courage and love.