The documentary OC87: The Obsessive Compulsive, Major Depression, Bipolar, Asperger’s Movie is such an integral part of co-director/co-writer/star Bud Clayman’s recovery process that it seems almost cruel to criticize it in any way. Clayman has suffered from all of the conditions in the title of his movie, and is currently dealing with the unwanted, often violent thoughts of his obsessive-compulsive disorder and the difficulty connecting with and understanding people that comes from Asperger’s syndrome. As a young man, Clayman aspired to be a filmmaker, and now at 47 he’s pulled together some money from his family and recruited two co-directors to help him realize his lifelong filmmaking dream and document his struggle with mental illness.
Clayman himself is a sometimes ingratiating, sometimes irritating screen presence, and he’s in nearly every frame of the movie. Some of the devices that Clayman and co-directors Glenn Holsten and Scott Johnston use to illustrate his condition are fascinating and ingenious, such as listening to Clayman’s pained voiceover describing the torturous thoughts that run through his mind as we watch him engaged in everyday tasks like walking down the street. But there isn’t quite enough material here for a feature film, and the movie takes a lot of unnecessary detours as Clayman tries out speed dating, goes to Los Angeles to meet with a soap-opera actor who struggles with bipolar disorder and even shoots a symbolic Lost in Space pastiche to represent the battle going on in his mind.
All of these activities help Clayman to integrate back into society and better confront his problems, and it’s hard not to root for the guy. But just because we hope for someone’s therapy to succeed doesn’t mean that we want to sit in on every session.