Glassland online movie review - So realistic, so minimalist, so slow, so quiet...
I've never ran across a movie seriously addressing the topic of alcoholism, that is until I saw Glassland.
Most dramas will show you the drunk dad who drinks too much because that's what some bad dads do in western culture, or the stressed mum who drinks too much because the bad dad did something bad. Glassland shows the true ugly colour of Alcoholism as an addiction and an illness. Based in Dublin, John (played by Jack Reynor), mid-twenties cab driver, has two problems to deal with: trying to save his single mother, Jean (played by Toni Collette) from alcoholism all while being unintentionally tangled in human trafficking as a cab driver while it affects his conscience despite that he needs the money to pay for everything as his mother just stays home and drinks herself to death.
The little weakness that I found in Glassland is that our main protagonist, John, is the strong silent type, the very very silent type. Now, when it comes to me, i'm a dialogue crazed audience, fan of Kevin Smith and Tarantino. Some people love these strong silent type characters but me, not my cup of tea. I had the same problem with Ryan Gosling in Drive and Only God Forgives (but Only God Forgives was a terrible movie as most will agree) yet The Passenger with Jack Nicholson worked for me somehow, it might had something to do with Maria Schneider... Anyway, getting back to the movie, as the viewer, I felt very distanced and snubbed by the movie and protagonist's long moments of silence where little things just happened and you're expected to just be very emotionally cunning to comprehend them (which I thought I did on some occasions). The movie itself is aware of it's own overwhelming silence and slow pace by giving John a friend called Shane (played by Will Poulter) who is a 20yr old adorably cocky lad who says "grand" a lot of time. But it really does feel like Shane was added arbitrarily just to give some colour to a film that clearly doesn't want to be colourful.
The undeniable strength of this movie is it's fearless and raw truth about how alcoholism affects people and the people around them with heart grabbing scenes with Toni Collette giving amazing performances as she always does and Jack Reynor (despite me complaining that he's too quiet) is pretty damn good in some scenes and has a lot of potential as a young upcoming actor. Jean also isn't just portrayed as the drinking monster but as a likable and suffering individual, noticeably shown in a scene where she explains why she is to John based on her resentments about having given birth to a child with down syndrome which she disowned after her husband left all of them due to that child. The movie also shows and reminds us how the public health-care system in many countries is useless and broken when it comes to helping people with mental illnesses and addictions. A movie worth giving a shot.