- Krissy Williams
Hill and Stutz
On December 22, 2017, the music industry lost a titan Jordan Feldstein, who passed away at the age of 40 due to a pulmonary embolism. Feldstein was the founder and CEO of Career Artist Management (CAM), a talent management company that represented high-profile musicians and actors. Feldstein's younger brother is actor and director Jonah Hill.
Recently, Hill has opened up about his emotional journey of grief and healing in the confessional documentary Stutz under the expertise of Phil Stutz. He is known for his unique form of psychotherapy, which combines traditional psychoanalysis with principles of spirituality and metaphysics.
Throughout the film, Hill is willing to confront and explore difficult emotions and experiences, including his struggles with body image and his complicated relationship with his mother. In one scene, Hill shows a giant cardboard cutout of his 14-year-old self, explaining how he despised his body at the time. As an actor, Hill faced criticism over his weight and appearance which affected his self-esteem.
This approach allows him to physically represent the negative self-image he experienced as a teenager, demonstrating the importance of visual aids in the therapeutic process.
Another critical moment is when Hill shares a personal moment when he discusses his late brother. Initially, he avoids discussing Feldstein on camera but later reveals that Stutz captured a photo of him on the day of his brother’s passing. The technique used in capturing the image is “exposure therapy," a type of therapy that involves safely and gradually confronting traumatic experiences under the guidance of a trained therapist.
Hill avoided looking at the image for four years. By deciding to confront it on camera, he takes a significant step towards acceptance of his loss. He stares at the picture in disbelief and contemplates how differently he would’ve reacted to the picture on the day of his brother’s death vs. how he views it at the time of the documentary. In response, Stutz acknowledges the rarity of being able to capture a pivotal moment in a person's life and then revisit it after healing has taken place.
Stutz’s personal experiences are also explored. He discusses his on-and-off relationship with a woman for over four decades, his struggles with Parkinson's, and losing his younger brother at the age of nine. He also talks about his relationship with his parents. As sessions between Hill and Stutz progress, their close bond over the years is evident in their banters and the casual "I love you”.
However their quest for transparent therapy sessions is challenged by a deception halfway through the film. Hill reveals that the office they film in is not Stutz's workplace but a replica. Both Hill and Stutz wear the same outfits repeatedly. Hill even wears a wig due to hair changes during filming. The following scenes depict them sitting behind large green screens, their crew members and behind-the-scenes snippets. Hill's decision to reveal showcases his commitment to authenticity even if it means shattering the illusion of continuity.
By showcasing the complex emotional struggles of both Hill and Stutz, the film offers a compelling case for the importance of confronting difficult emotions and the unique role that therapy can play in facilitating this process.
Art by Amber Duan