Family Life (1971)

Ken Loach’s film remake of his earlier TV drama In Two Minds explores the treatment of a teenager’s schizophrenia.
Family Life is a remake of David Mercer’s TV play In Two Minds, which had been filmed by Ken Loach four years previously. The broadcast of the latter provoked controversy, owing to its negative portrayal of the received treatment for schizophrenia. Family Life, like In Two Minds, promotes the theories of psychiatrist R.D. Laing, who did not believe that schizophrenia was a brain disease but a psychological syndrome that “cannot be understood without understanding despair”. In Family Life, a troubled nineteen-year-old’s mental condition is exacerbated by her unfeeling relatives, and the cold and ineffective solutions of medical practitioners, who prescribe drug and electro-convulsive therapy. For a very different take on schizophrenia, see Russell Crowe's Oscar-nominated portrayal of maths genius John Nash in A Beautiful Mind (2001).
1971 United Kingdom
Directed by
Ken Loach
Produced by
Tony Garnett
Sandy Ratcliff, Grace Cave, Bill Dean
Running time
107 minutes