Now on DVD and Digital HD from Sony, hopefully To Write Love on Her Arms will continue to help provide a beacon of hope for anyone struggling with mental health and addiction issues. As a narrative, the film leaves quite a bit to be desired. We get a glimpse into her early years (Isabella Iannuzzi plays the child Renee and Lindsey Riesen takes over as somewhat older Renee), which was marked by a very active fantasy life. The bulk of the story charts the five days prior to Renee entering rehab. Some nicely surreal visual elements, including Renee’s surroundings morphing into a real-life music video when she listens to her iPod, offer a contrast to the realism of Renee’s unhappiness.
It’s hard to be overly critical of a passion project that was obviously a labor of love for the real Yohe, Tworkowski, and others who served as consultants during production. However, it would’ve been nice to get a deeper portrait of Renee. As a character study, the film feels superficial. Unfortunately it lacks the forward momentum needed to draw in viewers who possibly don’t already have a vested interest in the subject matter. Concluding with a literal PSA seems to only emphasize the “after school special” atmosphere. Dennings gives it her all in a performance that is quite far removed from her best-known work (TV’s 2 Broke Girls, the Thor movies). The PG-13 rating is a blessing and a curse; it will allow younger viewers to more easily access the film, but it also meant toning down the more harrowing of Renee’s journey.
The DVD contains a generous amount of bonus material, including deleted scenes, featurettes, and character profiles. For more information about the To Write Love on Her Arms organization, visit the official website.