Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Glassland (2015) Theaters and VOD on February 12

Gerard Barrett's GLASSLAND would be doomed to get lost in the wave of social realism films coming out of Ireland, England and Wales if it weren't for  the performances of  Jack Reynor as a twenty something cab driver and Toni Collette as his alcoholic mother who's a hair's breath from having her liver implode.

GLASSLAND focus is on John (Reynor) who is has been saddled with his Jean (Collette) who would like nothing more than drink herself into oblivion.  Finding his mother unconscious in her bed results in his racing his mother to the hospital. The tests reveal that she is on the downhill slide to needing a new liver. There maybe hope if she can get clean and things work very briefly but the therapy doesn't take and she's off the wagon. Standing on the edge of a chasm John is told that the only hope is an expensive clinic...

The social commentary on the lower class is a cottage industry in the UK, There are I don't know how many similar films coming out every year; certainly there are enough to make you groan at the prospect of having to sit through yet another one. I know I did, and I hemmed and hawed about whether or not to take the time to sit down and watch yet another film about being poor in Ireland. Finally seeing a positive review and having a great deal of respect for Toni Collette I decided to make the effort and see the film.

To be honest much of this film isn't anything you haven't seen before. The only real change is that everyone in the film is rather likable, There are no real villains as such... or rather they are kept to the fringes as part of a human trafficking sub-plot that doesn't really fit in.

On the other hand the film has two killer central performances in Jack Reynor and Toni Collette. Reynor is a quite powerhouse of pain. Its clear that his life and particularly his mother is killing him. All he wants is for her to just let him take care of her but she refuses and simply wants to drink. Reynor's performance is the very definition of quite desperation and he's one of the bright lights in a truly bleak world.

Collette on the other hand swings wildly from caring mother to raging bull and back again. She is an addict personified. Her mood swings are terrifying, but there is something there behind her eyes that makes you understand why Jack is trying desperately to hold on to her. While her rages and showier behavior is what most people will talk about, I think the more powerful moment is an essentially long monologue in the middle of the film where Collette talks about her life.  Its one of those 'oh shit" moments where you realize just how good an actress someone is.

Its also one of those moments where you also realize that  come next year Collette should be in the running for an arm load of awards, but it will never happen since this is a small film, from a small company without the financial power to run a campaign to get the performance noticed.

Familiarity of the plot aside GLASSLAND has two poweful performances that make this film worth your time and money to see. It comes out Friday in theaters and on VOD.

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