Film Reviews

Review: ‘God Knows Where I Am’

Hot Docs 2016


God Knows Where I Am
(USA, 99 min.)
Dir. Todd Wider and Jedd Wider
Programme: International Spectrum (World Premiere)

“Something was eerie, and the house felt creepy,” someone says in this doc, which sets itself up as a mystery story about the discovery of a woman’s decaying body in a rural New Hampshire home. But God Knows Where I Am is not about a violent crime. The film depicts the accelerating psychosis of Linda Bishop, a woman who locks herself up, subsisting on a diet of apples and diary writing. Bishop had been committed to a psychiatric hospital and then perhaps irresponsibly discharged from it.

Apart from numerous shots of the house from various angles, and beautiful winter landscapes, this is essentially a talking head film that has Bishop’s sister and various people who knew her tell the story. The directors make copious use of the woman’s diary in voiceovers that relay everything from her sentimental love of nature and food fantasies to her realisation that she may not survive. Home video and snapshots portray a happy, accomplished person contrasting sharply with her present state – a doc strategy rapidly becoming a cliché.

You can’t help sympathizing with a woman who was probably failed by the system. But the doc insists too much, particularly in its endless visuals of a lonely country house that almost becomes a character in the film. Meanwhile tinkly, weepy music gets more tinkly and weepy as the movie lumbers forward.

God Knows Where I Am screens:
-Monday, May 2 at TIFF Bell Lightbox at 12:15 PM
-Saturday, May 7 at Cineplex Scotiabank at 9:30 PM

Please visit the POV Hot Docs hub for more coverage on this year’s festival.

Hot Docs runs April 28 – May 8. Visit www.hotdocs.ca for more information.

Maurie Alioff writes about movies for publications off- and on-line, and is a screenwriter currently collaborating on a documentary featuring Bob Marley’s granddaughter while researching other Jamaica-related projects, including a magical-realist crime story drawing on stories he hears on the island. He has written for radio, journals and TV, taught screenwriting and been a contributing editor to various magazines.

View all articles by Maurie Alioff »