“Acrimony” Touches on Borderline Personality Disorder and Mental Illness



By: Nicole Little Bradley

Some would say that “Acrimony” is a story about bitterness, anger, resentment and revenge. However, I would also add mental stability and mental illness to the list as well. After a brief and stilted court scene, Melinda (Taraji P. Henson) is smoking and talking to the camera where an unseen psychiatrist should be sitting. She recounts her story in voiceover, of the man (Lyriq Bent) who took her love, money and mother’s home from her for his pet science project. Just when they were at their lowest point, his luck changes, and suddenly Melinda can’t let go of the past. Her rage consumes her little-by-little.

Obviously, the movie highlights that there is punishment in store for the woman who goes blind with rage and obsession, but she’s a woman who needs help, not judgement. Did anyone else feel this way?

She’s in court-ordered therapy for a reason. When she leaves, the shrink casually asks, “Have you heard of Borderline Personality Disorder?”

The movie revels in her characters’ mood swings, changing from cold and calculating to a fury of screaming and hitting insanity. In one notable scene, she’s fuming mad at the man in her life. Sitting in a chair with her legs crossed, she does nothing but take long puffs from a cigarette and talk. As the plumes of smoke diffuse in front of her, it looks like she’s burning up from the inside out, ready to explode at any moment. Hell, hath no fury like Henson scorned.

The Wikipedia definition of Borderline Personality Disorder also known as (BDA), is a long-term pattern of abnormal behavior characterized by unstable relationships with other people, unstable sense of self, and unstable emotions. Perry brushes it off in the movie, preferring the story to hit a melodramatic ending.

However, I wish he would have spent some more time with this. Too many times mental health is overlooked and not addressed. Melinda was aware of her rage; however, she did not have the tools to control it.  She even mentioned that her un-controllable rage fits happened throughout her life. Melinda was more than a woman scorned. She was a woman who never got the help she truly needed. She was a woman who gave her man everything and left nothing for herself.  

How many Melinda’s are there walking around?