Is Spruce Haven a Real Women’s Shelter in Indiana?

In ‘When You Finish Saving the World,’ Julianne Moore plays the role of a woman who is doing her part in changing the world and saving people by working at a women’s shelter. Having been politically and socially active since her youth, Evelyn takes her job very seriously. So seriously, in fact, it leaves no room for her to pay attention to her own son. The distance from her family pushes Evelyn more towards her work and the people there, though with time, things start to feel a little bit too much on her part.

Whatever path Evelyn’s personal life follows, it doesn’t take away from her contribution, working at the shelter, and the good that the place does for many women. Because the film has such a realistic vibe, the question about Spruce Haven and whether or not it is real may come to mind. SPOILERS AHEAD

Spruce Haven is Fictional But Acknowledges the Real Contribution of Social Workers

‘When You Finish Saving the World’ takes place in a small town in Indiana, where the protagonist, Evelyn Katz, works at the women’s shelter for victims of domestic abuse. Her workplace is fictional and was created to serve the plot of the movie, but it is structured around the real-life shelters to which many social workers devote their lives to helping other people.

The film is written and directed by Jesse Eisenberg, who revealed that he has volunteered with several shelters on and off for more than a decade and a half. More than him, his wife and mother-in-law have been involved in social work. He mentioned that his mother-in-law ran a shelter for more than three decades in Indiana. His wife, Anna, worked at the shelter when she was a kid and has been involved in social work through education even now. She helped with translations between English and Spanish speakers and also worked to spread awareness about domestic violence in middle school.

All of this allowed Eisenberg the perspective to write about Spruce Haven and Evelyn’s work there. It was also a way for him to highlight the emotional conflict of the character. Being invested in social work and fuelled by her desire to do something meaningful in the world, Evelyn wants her son to be the same. But when he doesn’t turn out as she’d expected, she projects that expectation on Kyle, a boy whose mother was a victim of domestic violence and is currently living at Spruce Haven.

Evelyn’s empathy towards Kyle also presents hypocrisy on her part, as she doesn’t allow the same space in her life for her son, whom she completely rejects while developing a sense of grandeur about herself. What makes it all the more interesting is that she is no different in this department from her son, and it takes her some time to realize this. In all this, Spruce Haven continues to be important to her, giving her life the meaning she keeps looking for outside of her family.

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