A Different Brain: Louis Theroux – The DVDfever Review

A Different Brain A Different Brain is the second new Louis Theroux documentary this year, and it looks at a number of people who’ve suffered brain Injuries due to various reasons.

Louis describes the situation brilliantly early on, stating “The most precious part of our human anatomy is also one of the most mysterious. And damage to it can lead to unpredictable changes of ability and behaviour”, adding that those it affects are “trying to find their place in lives that no longer seem their own” and they’re “reconnecting in relationships in which everything has changed”.

Of those people featured, those who were the most moving began with Amanda Barnard, aged 38, who used to be a veterinary nurse until she fell off a horse and spent the next two years in a rehab unit. Not only was her husband, Rob, trying to keep everything together not only for his own sake, but also for their young children who must’ve found it very difficult during this time. It’s clearly had a detrimental effect on them all. Their situation even resulted in them moving into a new house, specifically laid out so that she could have a room to herself, even to the point of wanting a lock on the door so she can retain some independence.

The alternative was living in a care home, but Rob did not like the idea of her, as a 38-year-old, living in there as it didn’t seem right at such a young age, as well as the fact that they’ve been together 22 years, so there’s a life-long connection to maintain.

The most heartbreaking moment came when, on her own, Amanda described herself to Louis as “a burden who can’t hoover”, showing the self-realisation of the enormity of it all.

Then there was Natalie Smith (above-right with Louis), who has spent the last 15 years in a specialist unit. She was just 33 when she attempted suicide. As a type 1 diabetic, she injected herself with too much insulin and has since forgotten all about that, so just assumes the cause for her condition was a general head injury. Her Mum said that, even if they filled in all the gaps for her again, she’d soon forget anyway.

In addition, Natalie had got married at the age of 30, but then divorced, not too long before things changed. Despite all this, she was still very quick-witted despite her injury. When asked if she used to be an artist, she replies, “A piss artist”.

Elsewhere in the documentary was the case of a young man called Earl who, after a road traffic accident in 2013, showed that, even when someone is healed physically after such a tragedy, their mental state won’t always be back to how it was, with his mother saying that he’s Earl, but he’s *not* Earl.

And there was also Dan Park, hit by a transit van, leading to being in a coma for a year and losing a quarter of his brain. He tried to live a normal life for himself, but found he had to come back to the specialist unit and live there.

It’s clear from A Different Brain that it’s so tough for the individual who has suffered, but just as much so for their partners and/or family members, and there’s no easy answers.

Louis Theroux: A Different Brain isn’t yet scheduled for a DVD release (although many other of his documentaries already are), but if you missed this one, you can watch it on BBC iPlayer, up until June 14th, and click on the top image for the full-size version.

Overall: Well worth a watch.

Producer/Director/Series Producer: Jamie Pickup
Writer/Presenter: Louis Theroux

Louis Theroux: A Different Brain – Rob and Amanda

Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.


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