Psychology 101: Diana Danielle Discusses Challenges of Portraying Alzheimer’s on ‘Imaginur’

Thirsty for JUICE content? Quench your cravings on our Instagram, TikTok and WhatsApp

Earlier this year, the Malaysian film industry experienced a breath of fresh air when critics praised Nik Amir Mustapha’s romantic film, Imaginur.

The film was unlike anything else that had previously been released in the local arts scene; instead of downplaying a serious mental condition, it tastefully depicted the real-life struggles that Alzheimer’s disease patients face on a daily basis.

However, some fans of the film have voiced their opinions and thought that Nik Amir’s abstract approach to the subject was difficult to grasp, especially considering that the movie was told in a conceptual timeline.

From the left: Nik Amir Mustapha, Beto Kusyairy, and Diana Danielle. (source: Malay Mail)

Despite the confusion that some Malaysian audiences experienced, JUICE can confidently say that the film is still one of the best local movies released in the last decade.

Most viewers could also guess from the abstract approach that it must have been difficult for the actors to successfully depict the subject and dialogue in the film.

To answer this question, JUICE sat down with Diana Danielle, the actress who played the main character, Nur, to learn about some of the difficulties she encountered while bringing Imaginur to life.

(source: mStar)

JUICE: Hi Diana! Was it a challenge for you and the cast to portray Alzheimer’s on screen?

Diana: “I received a beautiful script, Imaginur, and I read it again and again, and I couldn’t understand a piece of it. I understood what it was; it was a simple love story about a man and a woman who fell in love, and it got foggy for the man because he couldn’t recollect a lot of memories because this was him when he was older. But in the context of reading a script with no visual context, I just didn’t know what was going on, so it felt like I was also suffering from Alzheimer’s just reading the script. In the end, however, it was beautifully done and translated by a group of very talented filmmakers, Nik Amir and Redza Minhat.”

Diana Danielle as Nur in ‘Imaginur’ (2023). (source: 300th)

JUICE: Do you think there should be more local films that discuss mental illnesses?

Diana: “I think we should have more (of them), but (they must be done) with good intentions. You have to be careful not to play up something that is as serious and make it woke because that’s where people start churning for the sake of churning. Yes, people are talking about mental health, but it has to be done in a tasteful manner or else it’s just noise.”

(source: @OhMyPerlis via X)

JUICE: Do you think the audience is able to understand the struggles of Alzheimer’s based on what was shown in the film?

Diana: “I think they have a glimpse of Alzheimer’s, how people with the condition tend to repeat the same thing, and how they’re living in a loop. They can see how certain memories are gone forever, and there are certain memories that are just haunting them every single day. I’ve heard a story of a woman in her nineties who could still recite the Qur’an, but didn’t remember her children. So, that’s what Alzheimer’s can do; it’s selective memory that the brain holds, but lets go of every other thing that it deems unimportant.”

(source: @OhMyPerlis via X)

JUICE: How do you cope through tough times when you’re facing mental health struggles?

Diana: “Everybody has different ways of dealing with their issues. When life throws so many random things at you, you might want things to be one way, but you find that they become something different, and it makes you question life. Sometimes you also question why you’re alive, but you have to pull yourself together and have some pep talk to get yourself that little juice to continue and take it a day at a time. You will then realise that so many answers will be uncovered, and they will teach you all this wisdom and (uncover) gems that will take you forward. There are also issues that I thought were big and would break me down if I had faced them five years ago, but the same issues popped up again today and I’d be like, ‘Oh, I’ve dealt with these issues before and this is how you handle them.'”

(source: Casey’s Movie Mania)

From the short conversation we had with Diana, it can be concluded that portraying the abstract film and its heavy subject was not an easy task for the cast, but they still managed to pull it off flawlessly.

Diana also mentioned that it was difficult to shoot the film because it began in 2020, right before the pandemic, and the actors felt that the complex timeline portrayed in Imaginur was also reflected during filming.

Nonetheless, the actress believes that the film provided a good starting point for other filmmakers to attempt to depict the struggles of people suffering from mental illnesses on the big screen.

Watch the full interview here:


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by JUICE Malaysia (@juicemy)

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.

If you or anyone you know is lonely, distressed, or having negative thoughts, please call these Malaysian hotlines:

Contact: +603-76272929
Email: [email protected]
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Contact: 15999
WhatsApp: +6019-2615999
Email: [email protected]
Website | Facebook

Daily (12pm – 12am)
Contact: 1800-18-2327
Email: [email protected]
Facebook | Instagram

For a more thorough directory of resources, head over to the websites of Malaysian Mental Health Association or MINDAKAMI.

Juice WhatsApp banner