Author(s): Chris M.
Produced by Lawrence Bender
Directed by David Fincher
Written by Ted Tally
Based on the Memoir “Switching Time” by Dr. Richard Baer
Cinematography by Dante Spinotti
Edited by Joe Hutshing & Pietro Scalia
Original Score by Alexandre Desplat
Harrison Ford - Dr. Richard Baer
Fairuza Balk - Karen Overhill
Edward Norton - Josh Overhill
James Caan - Martin (Karen’s Father)
Kathy Baker - Karen’s Mother
Robert DuVall - Karen’s Grandfather
Saoirse Ronan - Young Karen
Tagline: "There are monsters born in the world. Some you can see; others are like me - hidden"
Synopsis: In 1989, Karen Overhill (Fairuza Balk) walked into psychiatrist Richard Baer’s (Harrison Ford) office complaining of vague physical pains and depression. Odder still, she revealed that she’s suffering from a persistent lapse in memory. Routinely, she “loses” parts of her day, finding herself in places she doesn’t remember going to or being told about conversations she doesn’t remember having. Her problems are so pervasive that she often feels like an impersonator in her own life; she doesn’t recognize the people who call themselves her friends, and she can’t even remember being intimate with her own husband.
Dr. Baer recognizes that Karen is on the verge of suicide and, while using various medications to keep her alive, tries to discover the root cause of her strange complaints. It’s the work of months, and then years, to gain Karen’s trust and learn the true extent of the trauma buried in her past. What she eventually reveals is nearly beyond belief, a narrative of a childhood spent grappling with unimaginable horror at the hands of her abusive grandfather (Robert DuVall), parents (James Caan and Kathy Baker), and husband (Edward Norton) . How has Karen survived with even a tenuous grasp on sanity?
Dr. Baer receives an envelope in the mail. It’s marked with Karen’s return address but contains a letter from a little girl who writes that she’s seven years old and lives inside of Karen. Soon Baer receives letters from others claiming to be parts of Karen. Under hypnosis, these alternate Karen personalities reveal themselves in shocking variety and with undeniable traits—both physical and psychological. One “alter” is a young boy filled with frightening aggression; another an adult male who considers himself Karen’s protector; and a third a sassy flirt who says she emerges when Karen has sex. It’s only by compartmentalizing her pain, guilt, and fear in this fashion—by “switching time” with alternate selves as the situation warrants—that Karen has been able to function since childhood. All in all, Karen has seventeen unique personalities.
Realizing that his patient represents an extreme case of multiple personality disorder, Baer faces the daunting task of creating a therapy that will make Karen whole again. Somehow, in fact, he must gain the trust of each of Karen’s seventeen “alters” and convince them of the necessity of their own annihilation.
What the Press would say:
“Switching Time” is David Finchers most accomplished film to date. Fincher teams up with the Academy Award winning scribe from the “Silence of the Lambs” Ted Tally, and creates one of the most unique narratives in recent film. Fincher brilliantly uses flashbacks to display the torture young Karen lived through. David Fincher and Ted Tally have created one of the most honest and heartfelt films to deal with this controversial subject matter, and will most likely be rewarded for their brave and valiant efforts.
Fairuza Balk gives a career defining performance as Karen Overhill, a woman suffering from a severe case of Multiple personality disorder. Playing the shy abused housewife would have been challenging in itself, yet Balk effortlessly has created the seventeen unique personalities on screen, displaying a brilliant range of emotions, whether she is a happy child, or an embittered elderly man, or a flirtatious twenty something, Balk gets each one perfectly. Balk has given film one of those performances that will be studied for years to come. She is not only a lock for a Best Actress nomination; she is the frontrunner for the win. Harrison Ford gives one the best performances of the year in “Switching Time.” In Dr. Baer, Ford relishes’ in the role as the psychiatrist who takes a chance on such an unstable woman. Ford gives such a subtle yet effective performance that he will be too hard to be ignored come the end of the year awards.
Best Director – David Fincher
Best Actor – Harrison Ford
Best Actress - Fairuza Balk
Best Adapted Screenplay – Ted Tally