Glassland is the new film from Gerard Barrett, whose first feature Pilgrim Hill won plenty of praise in 2013. This debut wasn’t widely shown; however Glassland should get a bigger release.
Jack Reynor, better remembered for What Richard Did and Transformers 4, plays John, a taxi driver struggling to care for his alcoholic mother Jean (Toni Collette). Exhausted by long hours at work and at home, he convinces her to seek help for her addiction. Unfortunately, this help is expensive, forcing John to accept shady work.
Glassland is a powerful drama about love and vulnerability, and the extremes to which a person may have to go in order to help someone they love. John is certainly a likable person, but the fact remains that he is a criminal. The audience cannot condemn him, making this a powerful indictment of an indifferent state, as well as a deeply moving drama of desperate people. Reynor is fantastic: rarely off-screen, usually in oppressively tight, darkly lit frames, but always making every thought and gesture count.
The plotting is muted, removing the impression of this as a story with a structured beginning, middle and end, instead presenting it as a series of causes and effects, realistic and deeply human. Some moments are surprisingly moving – often unexpectedly – making it a deceptively simple film that may linger in the mind. The film is a little quick with its denouement, but its ending is compassionate and daring. It rounds out a tale not about gangsters, sex and violence, but about the people who are so often forgotten about in these situations.
The movie is set in a remote, barren wasteland, with little warmth and few people, where alcoholism, desertion and trafficking appear to be pervasive. This is not to say that Glassland is depressing, simply because there are few joys in this world, rather that these joys are always hard won. At first glance a minor feature, Glassland nonetheless holds a powerful emotional – and political – wallop. Certainly a film worth watching, it promises great, important things from Reynor and Barrett.
Glassland is released nationwide on 17th April 2015.
Watch the trailer for Glassland here: