Glassland is an Irish film that centres on the relationship between a mother and son. However, this is no ordinary relationship, it is the story of a dysfunctional mother and a devoted son.
John (Jack Reynor) lives with his mother, Jean (Toni Collette) in a south Dublin social housing suburb and makes a living as a taxi driver at night, barely making ends meet. He returns home one morning to find his mother, an addicted alcoholic, unconscious again.
Hospitalised after this overdose, the only hope for Jean is an expensive private rehab clinic, but she opposes John’s attempts to help her, as well as to unite the family. With no savings or insurance, John is forced to offer his services to a petty criminal to help pay for his mother’s recovery program, subsequently forcing him to face a life-changing task that may change him and his family’s lives forever.
This is a film for the patient. It is very slow moving and features a lot of scenes that are almost shot in the dark. However, if you are patient and work your way through the film, it is well worth it.
What makes it worth the watch is the two lead performances. Toni Collette never ceases to amaze me. There seems to be nothing she can’t play! Her scenes in the film were shot in an astonishing 6 days. Considering the amount of scene time she has, this is miraculous. She is vulnerable, pathetic (in the true sense of the word) and compelling to watch as she takes us on a roller coaster ride of emotions.
Jack Raynor’s performance gives us a son who loves his mother, but is exasperated by her behaviour and unwillingness to change. His character is totally realistic and elicits sympathy in bucket loads.
This is Gerard Barrett’s second feature film and, at only 27, he shows great promise. He is able to direct a film that is not reliant on special effects or elaborate sets. He concentrates on character development and well-written dialogue.
Glassland is a film that realistically highlights the problems faced by society today whether in Ireland or Australia. For those who like slower paced movies, it is a must see.
Reviewed by Barry Hill
Rating out of 10: 8
Glassland will be released on Blu-ray, DVD and Video on Demand on 20 April 2015.
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