The script was informed by Russell's own experiences with people who have struggled with mental health problems, the filmmaker said on Sunday.
World War II and the probing fingers of media shot our collective illusions of independent solitude full of wholes. Now, the immediacy and addictive transparency of social media is shining strobe lights on the glass houses of our inner most selves. In the words of Don Tapscott, we're all consciously naked in this new reality - yet only some are looking for fig leaves to cover themselves with. Sprouting up here and there is a willingness to be naked and to let the sun light our souls.
Those who have stripped themselves of the cloisters of their solitude are being bombarded by consciousness of the world that inhabits them; the ecosystem that we are all, consciously or not, part of. As the veils of illusion fall away, the realities laid bare are both inspiring and horrifying. There is no Other; what we fear is just a reflection of ourselves. Those we look upon as lesser than - less moral, less pragmatic, less sensible, less human - are equally valid in their judgements of us. Beyond the Garden of Good and Evil, the world is a far less binary place. There are no easy answers, no simple choices; decisions must be considered with content, context and consequence in mind.
While these pilgrims grapple with the vertiginous awareness that they are but trees in the forest, there are others who continue to see themselves as islands in the gulf, or points of light in the darkness. These folk see safety in walls and threats in diversity; to them, reality is as it was intended and the only natural law is survival of the fittest. The social ecosystem, as diverse and connected as is the natural one is not, to them, evolution; it's a fall over the edge of the world they know.
Hence, we round out 2012 with hopeful films about the connectivity of people through space and time like Cloud Atlas and meditations on the silos of the self like Cosmopolis. Elections on both sides of the Canadian/US border aren't about politics, they're about the end of our countries as we know them. Even in our outlooks on diversity, we come down to poles. But the world isn't like that; ours isn't a bipolar existence, it's a cyclical one. There's also a little film called The Master, which is about people's need to believe in something and what they're willing to sacrifice on behalf of those beliefs.
What does all this have to do with a film about mentally ill people trying to support each other in building a new life, directed by a man not afraid to talk about his own brushes with mental illness?
That's for you to interpret.