In a wood, flooded with sunlight, Ian hides in the trees. Tentatively clutching his walkie talkie; he waits for his father’s voice to respond through the crackling air waves. When the only noise he hears is empty static coming from the other end, the child makes his way to the clearing where he is confronted by the lifeless body of his father.
Ten years on, now a young man, he comes across the body of a girl who has hanged herself near his house. These scenes provoke in the viewer a sense of dread and foreboding and lay the path for a film that captures very beautifully mortality and the helplessness and uncertainty of life.
Ian (Robert de Hogg) and his obsession with life and death, drifts through his bemused existence with no recognition of what it is to feel lonely.
He has grown up entirely detached from the world, locked in his room, deeply uncertain about what it means to live, or even to exist, describing himself as ‘a defective human’. Despite this befuddlement, and his apparent apathy, we see glimpses of his torment and the blurred uncertainty of his fragile mind.
When his mother passes away, she leaves him a book, apologising for her absence while she was alive, but with a wish that she can help him in some way in death. She tells him to find love, and to live.
His misadventures shock and at times edge on horrifying, but these strange, dream-like encounters add to the poignancy of the film. He encounters the nervous Amanda, thrilled that she can eat whatever she wants now that she has decided to end her life, and Naomi (Pollyanna McIntosh) who in grieving over the loss of her six year old son, ironically gives him a sense of what is to live.
I was compelled by all of Muldowney’s characters despite the desperate pain that surrounds each of them. Each one evokes a sense of compassion in the viewer as they fumble through their otherworldly experiences.
This slow and dreamlike film paints a series of metaphors that capture the pain of depression, grief and mental illness. These highly emotive themes are never easy to depict. A melancholy surrounds each character in this film which might be overwhelming for some but I found it gave a dark and truthful insight into the complexity of the mind and our attempts to find love in a lonely and complex world.
It is quite a dark exploration of psychosis and mental health but it deals with the issue with tact and sensitivity, while revealing the sincere anguish that many people are faced with.
From the opening sequence that fills the screen with stunning geometric patterns, and shapes that dance along to the enchanting score by Bart Westerlaken, the viewer is sent into a trance that carries on throughout the film.
Muldowney has managed to create a fantastical world where people search for meaning without the will or strength to find it. The irony is that the movie depicts the world so beautifully and yet its characters have no appreciation of it, no sense of love or beauty, drifting along whilst being enveloped in sadness.
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