Parents' tragic account of a suicide at 15

Posted: April 03, 2009

Boy Interrupted is a remarkable, deeply unsettling documentary about the life of Evan Perry, an uncommonly bright, talented boy from New York who committed suicide at age 15.

It's all the more revealing, disturbing - and not a little bizarre - since it was made by the boy's parents, the husband-and-wife filmmaking team of Dana and Hart Perry.

An educated, articulate couple, the Perrys seem to have documented every waking moment of their children's lives, which means we are given unprecedented firsthand footage of Evan literally from the moment he emerges from the womb to the weeks before his fatal jump from a window in his family's apartment in 2005.

Evan's friends, doctors, and teachers testify to his precocious intelligence and his talent as a writer and actor, then speak with bewilderment of his moody, self-destructive side, which he seems to have exhibited by age 3.

His psychiatrist says that at 8, Evan "was the scariest kid I ever saw in my life. . . . I've never seen a kid this intent on death."

Diagnosed with manic depression, Evan was stabilized for some time during his early teens. As his tearful mother recounts on camera (seeing his parents - the filmmakers! - go through the ordeal of recounting it all again on-camera is heartbreaking), they all thought he was on the mend.

Tragically, he surprised them.


Boy Interrupted *** (out of four stars)

Directed by Dana Heinz Perry. With Evan Perry, Dana Perry, Hart Perry, Hart Perry Sr., Beatrice Perry, Martine Gerard.

Running time: 1 hour, 32 mins.

Parent's guide: Not rated (adult themes, psychological content).

Playing at: The Black Box at The Prince at 9:15 p.m. Saturday.


Contact staff writer Tirdad Derakhshani at 215-854-2736 or tirdad@phillynews.com.

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