In 1977, Call Richmond had developed a paranoid schizophrenia and seemingly disappeared off of the face of the earth. A handful of phone calls spread out over a few years time is all that his sister Rebecca and other family/friends heard from him. He eventually stopped calling, and not until the late 90's did they have any idea where he had been. One day Call is back, standing outside of the house. This documentary follows Rebecca's quest to get her brother back to reality, to help him live a normal life again. But that's not an easy thing to do, and it can't be done without bringing up old family tragedies.
I'm not the first guy to seek out documentaries, but there are plenty of excellent ones out there. And usually, the most incredible ones are focused on a specific person's tough life. My personal favorite documentary of all time is "The Devil and Daniel Johnston", because it's just such an emotional trip, and in the end you really care about Daniel Johnston. I can safely say that this is the case with "A Sister's Call". The story we hear, about Call and his family, is amazingly dark, sad and depressing in so many ways. And that's why it's so incredible to see this family slowly getting to lay their shit to rest, one step at a time, and becoming a complete, loving family again.
The main focus here is Call and Rebecca, brother and sister. Call developed a paranoid schizophrenia early on, and in 1977 he finally walked away from his life. The coming 20 years he spent running away from voices in his head, living as a homeless man, and slowly losing grip of reality. When he one day comes back into their life in the late 90's, Rebecca decides that she has to help him get normal again. But it's a hard ride, and might not even be possible. For the first year, he barely speaks (if at all). They get all the help they can from psychiatrists, family and friends, but helping someone who has been disconnect from the real world mentally for so long is hard. And it's hard to take for anyone involved, Rebecca especially. She slowly becomes stressed out and vulnerable, and her daughter's start to begin secondary. Call tries to follow what's happening, and in periods he does a great job at getting back to living a normal life. He has an apartment, takes his medicine as he should, and is generally on the right track. But he has his slips as well, the biggest being in 2006 where he has to be institutionalized. This is a heavy blow for Rebecca to take after all of the work she has put into him, and she finally can't take anymore.
This is just one of the stories that we follow in this family. The longer into it we get, the more dirt is revealed in the family's background. We find out that the enviroment they grew up in was far from standard, no matter how ideal it looked from the outside. Their mother suffered from paranoid schizophrenia as well, and just before Call disappeared in 1977, she committed suicide (after a few failed attempts). On top of that, several stories of sexual abuse within the family is revealed, and this family story becomes darker by the minute.
Do I need to tell you that this is a devastating documentary? It shows generations of tragic incidents in one family, and the longer you watch it the more depressing it gets. But the important thing here is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel: Call. Call's struggle to get back to life is more often than not a very happy thing to watch. He's a likable man, and the people around him really love him. They want the best for him, and I truly believe he can feel that. Behind all the tragedies, the ending is definitely a sweet one that makes the documentary worth watching.
There is no reason at all to skip this documentary - it's a horrifying ride, but it's something that happens in the real world. It might even encourage people suffering from similar things as Call to dare admit what they have. It might get people to push harder to help someone they love. "A Sister's Call" is an emotional journey. I'm amazed at what this family has gone through, and the fact that they are still alive, that they carry on, is proof of how strong they are, and how important it is to have people around you.