Take a Drink: whenever Lucas does something sketchball
Take a Drink: for signs of trouble in paradise
Take a Drink: for withering jabs
Take a Drink: for head-scratching public domain TV programs
Do a Shot: for circular fade-ins
By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
There is a certain class of bland, festival-ready drama seemingly specifically engineered to provide an actor’s showcase for a recognizable face, with no further aspirations. On the surface, The Mend looks exactly like that.
That’s Josh Lucas- you remember Stealth, right?
The Mend has a simple enough plot- a fuckup (Lucas) crashes his brother’s (Stephen Plunkett) party, whose relationship with his almost fiancee (Mickey Sumner) is heading for the rocks. When the two falling out out lovebirds accidentally forget the fuckup in their apartment while making a mad dash for the airport, he figures he may as well have his girlfriend (Lucy Owen) and her son come crash there as well.
While Lucas’s attachment to the project is almost certainly how it got made, and he is certainly god (as is the rest of the cast- uniformly right down to the kid), what really sets The Mend apart from the typical middle of the road festival flick it resembles is debuting director John Magary.
Wait, is that Lucas Lee?
Right from the get-go, with three rapidly-cut, time-jumping scenes neatly sketching out Lucas’s character and his relationship with his girlfriend and her son, it’s apparent that Magary does things a little differently. He’s not afraid to disorient his audience with editing and off-kilter scene rhythms, and is excellent at withholding information and forcing viewers to infer and piece together character-building information. It’s a uniquely engaging approach, bolstered by a strong sense of humor, an intriguingly unsettling score, and ending on the perfect, subtly ambiguous grace note.
As brilliantly elaborated as the subtext of Magary’s film is, it’s a bit lacking in, well, text. The plot and its conflicts are pretty spare, and Lucas’s behavior in particular doesn’t seem to have much history underpinning it.
Daddy was an asshole? Welcome to every teenager’s life.
Without that underlying weight of character history, when the simmering drama does reach a boil, character reactions can come off as a bit hysterical.
Yes, The Mend is a decent acting showcase, but it’s true draw is how much of a director’s showcase it ends up being for the very promising John Magary.