What do you think of when you hear the term “depression”? I’ve heard various answers, but I can guarantee that most wouldn’t think of a girl who comes from a good family, has gone to good schools and never had financial worries. A girl who might be on the quieter side, but often smiles. I am describing one of the main characters from The Valley, Maya, who not only suffers from depression, but takes her own life. And none of her family can understand why.
The Valley is a drama/mystery that focuses on a father, Neal, living in Silicon Valley, who is forced to deal with the trauma of losing one of his daughters to suicide. His wife, Roopa, their other daughter, Monica, and their housekeeper, Didi, all reflect on the few months prior to the tragedy, wondering what they could have done differently. However, Neal, as shocked and confused by his daughter’s decision as the rest of his family is, insists on looking more into the college she attended, searching for someone to blame. But the more he uncovers, the more he begins to realize that things aren’t always as they seem.
When Neal discovers that Maya was depressed, he’s more confused than ever. He genuinely doesn’t understand how his daughter could reach such a low point. He provided for her, he called and checked up on her, and they shared so many good memories together. But this way of thinking, these questions, they aren’t about Maya. They’re about himself. And this is what Neal comes to realize. His daughter’s life is so much more than just his actions. And much of her stress came from the pressure to perform at school, and the lack of support she had there.
Depression, like any mental illness, is not logical, and, more often than not, it is not obvious. It consists of many subtleties, little things that accumulate into a whirlwind of chaos that seems impossible to escape. This was Maya’s life, and unfortunately, no one noticed until it was too late.
This film also goes to show that money does not solve everything. Ever heard the expression money doesn’t buy happiness? It’s because it’s true. Does it make life more comfortable, or perhaps ease certain worries? Of course. Money has its perks. But it isn’t everything. In fact, nothing in life is that simple. A+B does not equal happiness, it never has. Humans are far too complicated for that. This film perfectly captures that all too common misconception. Just because a person has this and that, does not mean they are happy. Just because someone seems to have a good life does not mean that they do, and just because someone seems okay, it doesn’t mean they are.
The film’s message is, without a doubt, its greatest trait. And though there are moments where the dialogue feels slightly forced or over dramatic, the themes easily make up for it. This film is heart-wrenching, and, at times, incredibly frustrating in the best way possible. It asks the audience to look at their own loved ones, to look at themselves and our society. And any film that does that is most definitely a film worth watching.
The Valley Is Currently Enjoying A One Week Run In The United States Until June 15th. Check for local screenings here.