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Review: The Yellow Wallpaper

Apr 15, 2021
Movie poster for the yellow wallpaper

By: Isabel Icevedo

On March 20 th through the 30th, Kevin Pontuti, professor, and director of the Media X program
at the University of the Pacific, debuted his first full-length movie, The Yellow Wallpaper, at the
Cinequest Film Festival. Several other professors, along with his wife Alexandra Loreth who
stars in the film, also contributed to the film, which piqued my interest enough to watch it and
write a review.
I want to begin by saying, I am not a film critic. In fact, I only have a film studies minor and a
love of cinema to validate my commentary on this film. Professor Pontuti was also gracious
enough to grant me access to the film afterwards so that I could write a review for The Pacifican.
With that said, these are simply my own thoughts on the film, and I encourage any readers who
have not seen the film, to create their own thoughts towards the film once they are able to see it.
The film is an adaptation of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s fictional short story that was published
in 1892. The story revolves around the main character, Jane, and her journal entries about her life
as a young mother and writer. More information about the film and its contributors, along with
the film trailer, can be found on the University of the Pacific’s website under the Pacific
Newsroom. I will simply be focusing on reviewing the film.
I started the film with no expectations, and almost no knowledge about the short story, The
Yellow Wallpaper. The film opens with a carriage ride that slowly focuses on the female lead,
Jane. She gazes out of the carriage window. Her husband sits across from her, occasionally
sending worried glances her way. We get a glimpse of the newborn child laying next to her.
After a little while of carriage sounds and a shaky camera matching the bumbling carriage ride,
the baby starts wailing. Jane becomes distressed and continues to look out the window. Her
husband pleads with her to do something. She picks up the baby and before I had time to process,
throws the baby out the window, ending its screams. Her husband yells for the carriage to stop
and jumps out. The camera pauses on her immediately content face and from that instance on, I
was hooked.
This is my kind of movie.
And by that, I mean, surprising and unexpected, not one that condones violence against babies.
The film is full of physiological twists like this one. They get out of the carriage and everything
is suddenly fine, almost like it never happened. They have arrived at their new home where they
will be staying to help Jane’s mood improve. Her husband introduces her to the bedroom on the
second floor. She immediately notices the yellow wallpaper lining the walls. Her fascination
with the wallpaper gave me an uneasy feeling that carried throughout the end of the film. Jane’s physical appearance also starts deteriorating as her mental state does during her isolation with the
yellow wallpaper room.
The film leaves a lot up to interpretation, including leaving the audience wondering if what Jane
is seeing is actually happening or if these are delusions based on her illness. I thought a
possibility for this illness could be some modern-day equivalent to postpartum depression since
she remains detached from her own baby. She is also shamed for using writing as a coping
mechanism and has to spend most of her days alone while her husband works long hours. The
film portrays her struggles with her mental illness through her exploration of the grounds, her
hallucinations of a woman holding her baby, and her fascination with the woman in the
wallpaper who she cannot let escape.
Without spoiling too much of the film, I loved the way the score fused with the disturbing and
foreboding imagery showed throughout the film. The entire time the wallpaper was shown, I felt
a sense of foreboding doom for Jane. I also felt sympathy for her as her mental illness was being
untreated. The film had so much social commentary on mental illness and patriarchal standards
for women. It has suspense, horror, and the score only helps highlight the insane visuals that are
shown. I would recommend this movie to anyone interested and keep an eye out for it at the next
film festival. I would also like to commemorate everyone who worked on the film including
Professor Pontuti and his wife, Alexandra Loreth, who played an incredible Jane. Also read The
Yellow Wallpaper, while awaiting Pontuti’s next masterpiece.

PC: Kevin Pontuti's Instagram @kevinpontuti