Friday, 13 November 2009


Not a new release for the LIFF: this is a pre-Bond Daniel Craig playing a middle aged man beset by mental illness, paranoid and in denial about his condition. He doesn’t trust the pills his brother (David Morrissey) is giving him and he finds it hard to relate to other people and communicate in a way we consider socially acceptable.  He then falls into a relationship with a Scottish girl (Kelly MacDonald) who is pregnant by her ex-boyfriend, but he loves her and the happiness she brings convinces him that he doesn’t need medical help, so he goes on a hiatus from the pills and things slowly spiral downwards from here on in.

I didn’t recognise Daniel Craig at all when the film began as he looks so different – older actually, compared to how he is now! He is excellent in this, managing to portray a difficult and complex condition in an authentic and discerning way.  I’m not a huge fan of Craig, but this is certainly one of his break out performances. It’s a very strong British ensemble actually – and that adds to the credence of the film and the characters. The relationship between Ray and Laura is lovely to watch because you are routing for them both to be happy together. And there are some overly romantic implausible scenes to enjoy as well – watching as she comes out onto the balcony to see him standing on the beach in the middle of a crop circle he has drawn in the sand is pure gooey.

The problem was the script – it was all too neat; too much of an exemplary tick the boxes screenplay. He meets girl, he’s happy, he gives up pills, he starts becoming paranoid, he becomes erratic and unstable, there’s a big explosive climax, and then an ending where he’s recovering and EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OK. I think they could have been a bit more inventive and imaginative with the storyline and his behaviour. If he had been a bit more up and down throughout the film it might have created a bit more excitement and interest about what’s going to happen in the end. Instead it was pretty predictable and unoriginal. That said, the film didn’t over schmaltz things too much (there is all the cooking scenes with his brother…) and that saves the film from being completely innocuous.

It reminded me of a film I saw recently, Adam, where the girl needs saving by someone who thinks and sees the world differently to her but ultimately that difference means they can never permanently be together.  I think it’s nye impossible to have a good mental illness/disability film with romance being the driving theme, and I don’t expect there to ever be one (this coming from a girl who hasn’t seen Rain Man or A Beautiful Mind – shhhh!).

The acting and chemistry between the cast is enjoyable - worth seeing if it’s ever on, but don’t expect to be profoundly blown away by it.

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