Mitch: The Diary of a Schizophrenic


By Jakub Mejer

Mitch is a schizophrenic, but he sees himself as an artist. ‘I write poems’ he states early in the film. He’s also making a movie, a thing he’s eager to boast when talking to girls he’d met in a bar. It doesn’t matter that they don’t believe him when he’s saying that while shooting with his cellphone. He’s really making a movie.

‘Mitch’ is an edited and juxtaposed version of short films shot by Mišel Škorić, the eponymous character, while being up-and-down during his fight with mental disability. Camera is often shaky, most of the movie is a collage of low quality cellphone videos showing abstract, blurry or pixelated images that are often unrecognizable. The only thing that stands out are people, affected by some crude postproduction that turned them into surreal, rotoscopped figures straight out of a poor man’s version of Richard Linklater animated movies. The only person that is not looking as a cartoon is Mitch – when he turns camera on himself he’s blurry, pixelated but real, not surreal.

We are seeing titular character doing various activities he thought are worthwhile being shot – he’s smoking cigarettes, rapping, having fun with his friends in a mental hospital, complaining about his life, watching porn, planning what to do outside of the institution. When he’s released we are a spectators of ethically dubious behavior – doing drugs or committing various crimes.

Watching ‘Mitch’ might be morally disturbing. Main character, sometimes with his friends, is behaving strangely, doing things that look like straight out of Farrelly brothers comedy. The problem is that that’s not Jim Carrey or Will Ferrell – that’s a living person isolated in a Croatian hospital.

American journalist Janet Malcolm once wrote about her profession that they are ‘kind of a confidence man, preying on people’s vanity, ignorance, or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse. Like a credulous widow who wakes up one day to find the charming young man and all her savings gone, so the consenting subject of a piece of nonfiction writing learns – when the article or book appears – his hard lesson’. This statement can be also used while talking about the non-fiction filmmaking. Audience is having enormous fun watching ‘Mitch’ but we don’t know (and probably never will) if a main character is aware, that moviegoers are laughing at him. And I can guarantee you that they’re not laughing because he’s a great comedian.

Film directed by Damir Čučić is showing us everyday life of a schizophrenic. Some people definitely might find that insight interesting. At the same time we might feel a little disturbed by his behavior and the way it’s used in a movie. This true-life version of ‘Dumb and Dumber’ lacks humane approach, but the audience is having fun anyway. Whether it’s politically correct or not.