SXSW Film Review: My Beautiful Broken Brain

Doc opens a window into traumatic brain injury

Adding to the repertoire of both the incomparable David Lynch (he is an executive producer) and Netflix’s increasingly acclaimed documentary collection, this re-cut 2014 film by Lotje Sodderland and Sophie Robinson is nothing short of remarkable.

The trippy cerebral scope – reminiscent of virtual reality goggles with its spectacular visual and sound effects – is simultaneously beautiful and horrific. Sodderland suffered an intracranial hemorrhage, or a kind of stroke resulting from congenital vascular malformation, at the age of 34. As a creative, linguistically inclined person, her recovery was more than simply a means to find what was lost. Through a brilliantly edited combination of iPhone selfie video footage and deeply personal documentary filmmaking, we see Sodderland discover an entirely new perspective as she learns to appreciate the nuances of an intricately changed brain. Aphasia is the problematic focal point: A book lover, she cannot read; a writer, she cannot write; an artist, her thoughts melt like Dali’s clocks. Well-balanced with neurological/scientific info and an inherently engrossing, albeit traumatic, plot, the film opens a window into traumatic brain injury while presenting an intimate journey from terrifying happenstance to heightened and altered reality. Surprisingly beautiful and emotionally intense, this visually stunning glass eye is a testament to Sodderland’s spirited strength in the midst of her delightfully strange, but entirely real, Lynchian nightmare.

My Beautiful Broken Brain

Visions, North American Premiere
Tuesday, March 15, 7pm, Marchesa
Friday, March 18, 9:30pm, Alamo Ritz

Keep up with all our SXSW coverage at

More SXSW 2016
SXSW Film Review: <i>I Am a Hero</i>
SXSW: I Am a Hero
Japanese zombie flick takes Midnighters prize

Richard Whittaker, March 23, 2016

SXSW Film Review: <i>Carnage Park</i>
SXSW: Carnage Park
Mickey Keating's take on classic American horror

Richard Whittaker, March 23, 2016

More SXSW Film 2016
SXSW Film Review: <i>We Are X</i>
SXSW: We Are X
Music doc explores the biggest band you never heard of

Richard Whittaker, March 23, 2016

SXSW Film Review: <i>The Master Cleanse</i>
SXSW: The Master Cleanse
The perils of purification

Marjorie Baumgarten, March 19, 2016

More by Jessi Cape
Review: Bao’d Up
Review: Bao'd Up
Mueller’s new steamed bun shop is hit and miss

Nov. 10, 2017

Dog & Duck Pub Closes
Dog & Duck Pub Closes
Update: Longtime employees send heartfelt thanks to the community

Nov. 8, 2017


SXSW 2016, SXSW Film 2016, My Beautiful Broken Brain

AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)