When I’ve Wanted To Die – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

When I've Wanted To Die - Title Card
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When I’ve Wanted To Die, feels like a visual summary, with an incremental update, of Anna Akana’s book released last year.


Director(s) Anna Akana
Written By Anna Akana
Date Released 10/11/2018
Genre(s) Short, Drama
Good If You Like Anna Akana

Stories About Hope, Despite Depression

Noted Cast
Herself Anna Akana

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Summary

It is repeatedly said in this generation, if you do not see yourself in films, TV, books, etc, then you need to create what you want to see. That is what we are given here. We are given Anna’s own story that traces how she reached certain points of her life. Partly it was chemical, also due to some unwise decisions, but also the actions of other people. It shows how little things can plant seeds and it makes big things seem like signs you should just stop. Not just doing what embarrasses you but maybe your life.

Yet, with taking note of the grandmother character, and a wave analogy, hope is provided. For there is a push to remember good times existed once and they can again.

Highlights

It’s Impactful & Gets The Point Across

Anna trying to hang herself.

I’ve read Anna’s book, watched her videos, and would consider myself a fan. So it is interesting, despite knowing her story, how it can still hit so hard. Perhaps it is because it presented her depression like a boxing match. Not a literal one, but showed how, blow after blow, how staying in the ring, not just laying on the mat, it gets tiring. For eventually you are so beaten and bruised that when you do get knocked down, there is no desire to really get up.

Also, you have to take note it sometimes isn’t just one thing or the way your brain is wired. It could be getting broken up with, losing a family member, being bullied, we get to see so many reasons and ways someone could become depressed. Creating a bit of a catch-all, true, but that’s the thing about representation. Unfortunately, you sometimes feel the need to include everything because you don’t know the next time you’ll have the opportunity to exhibit that topic or story. So you can’t really plan for a sequel to build off what could be said – you have to say it all then and there.

On The Fence

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Anna holding a knife in her hand.

I’m a strong believer that most shorts should be considered truncated movies that couldn’t get the funding needed to be longer. With that in mind, I do believe if you weren’t a fan of Anna, didn’t have some form of depression, you may not like this. I fully believe that my enjoyment of Anna is what pushes me to say most of what is in the highlight.

However, taking a fans lens off, while you get the point, you may see this as an overstuffed short. One which may have a message but wants to mean so many things to so many people, it dilutes any semblance of a story. We just jump from Akana playing a middle school version of herself, to late high school, briefly goes into her sister’s death, failed relationships (romantic and family) and it presents an almost mad rush to recap everything. To the point the short seems almost manic at times.

Which could have been an artistic decision. Presenting an almost manic high when in love and happy, then showing the extreme of trying to choke yourself, cut yourself, and contemplate suicide in a handful of different ways. I can’t say for sure but, taking note Akana says this was born from a dark period and is personal, you can understand why she’d want to put everything out there to perhaps find a way to move on from it. If not do more than simply acknowledge and know it happened, but find meaning and hope that by exposing this myriad of moments, someone can see her whole story. Take note she made it and is still kicking despite what people feel would break them.

Overall: Mixed (Divisive)

Anna, in a fancy dress, in a empty room.

The message is clear and from the comments on the video, greatly appreciated.  The issue here is that, as you look beyond the message, and just take note of the story, so begins the stumbling. You may force yourself to note that shorts are perhaps not what the artist would do if they had the money to do more, yet it also is a representation of what’d they do if they have the funds.

Leading to why the mixed label. Does Anna have a sometimes tragic, yet ultimately uplifting story? Yes. The issue is, at this point, she needs to create some kind of magnum opus. For now it feels like she is remixing her story over and over, just with a bigger budget each time. It began on YouTube, then a book, now there is this short. Leading to you assuming, between a show or movie, that would hopefully be the magnum opus (which would be great for FreeForm).

Problem is, what new details are there to add? As said with Anna’s book, what you get feels like a summary of years of YouTube videos. So, at this point, should the only thing we expect is, on a fairly regular basis, as Anna can afford to do more, incremental updates? The kind which will have her recap her whole story before we finally get to the sliver of new details she wants to add?

But, I digress, the point is, while the short has a good message, it ultimately feels more like a cathartic release than a story which was meant to have a straightforward point. Thus making it seem a bit scattered and while you could argue that it being so brings something artistic to the short, represents the crazy highs and lows of dealing with depression, that’s debatable.

With that said, it’s ten minutes and worth a watch if you are a fan. If not, it probably won’t make you one but might just give you the feels. No promises though.

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