Director: Mikey Murray | 1h 30mins | Drama, Comedy
Lucy, an office worker on the cusp of having an affair with a new coworker, begins to contemplate the emptiness in her life and the dysfunction in her marriage to her husband Paul.
Mind-Set, written and directed by Mikey Murray, is quick to establish its tone within the first 5 minutes. After a snapshot dream-like sequence of Lucy feeling free-spirited as she dances around a field, we are flashed to the film’s dreary black and white reality as Lucy lies in bed with her husband, begrudgingly giving him a handjob under their covers – only to be gifted with a fart in return. A comedic opening that paves the way for the rest of the film – a razor-sharp drama with jet-black humour that excels in both departments.
The film’s rough-around-the-edges feel at first seems like the product of its smaller budget, but as the story unravels it begins to compliment the harshness and imperfect nature of its relationships. No emotion shown is cut and dry in Mind-Set, allowing its exploration of Lucy’s mental health, or her marriage to Paul, to feel firmly planted in reality. However, despite such a firm grasp on reality the film never shies away from intelligent visual storytelling and inventive cuts. A particular scene transitions from Lucy leaving a hotel room only for the next shot of the street to appear in the doorway. It looks simple in execution but helps the film to feel cohesive and well-balanced.
Mind-Set – like all kitchen sink dramas – can be trying, but if you’re patient the film will reward you with its sharp humour and its even sharper drama.
When comparing the film to the kitchen sink dramas that have come before it, it feels less raw than more modern takes like Nil By Mouth (1997) but more stylish and visually appealing like Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1962). Mind-Set is very much a product of the 21st Century in what it wants to talk about – making mental health the centrepiece of its story.
We are told very early about Lucy’s struggles with mental illness but, as the film progresses Murray periodically drops new nuggets of information about characters throughout the film. It would be a disservice to the audience to go into too much detail, but what it does do is make every character have a purpose, as well as create a genuine attachment to them by the time we are at the film’s challenging ending.
Eilis Cahill, an American actress who plays central character Lucy, is not only handling the very British humour well but nails the complexity of Lucy’s gradual change as she succumbs to her mental health. Her performance, as well as Steve Oram’s, doesn’t opt for explosive rage or over-emotionality but would rather subtly change with the film’s pace and tone. They both handle the dead face humour well, but mostly the two stars deserve plaudits for their authenticity and honesty in their performances.
Mind-Set – like all kitchen sink dramas – can be trying, but if you’re patient the film will reward you with its sharp humour and its even sharper drama. The film is tackling a lot of aspects, and even if some don’t resonate with you there is a genuine feeling of authenticity to the film that’s delivered with both a raw sensibility and a sense of imagination.