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Glassland Review

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Question; what do you do when your first movie earns you an award whose previous recipients include Michael Fassbender and Soairse Ronan, as well as being met with widespread critical acclaim? If you're Gerard Barrett, you try to follow it up with another indie drama brimming over with emotional depth and anchored by some magnificent performances.

Barrett's feature debut, Pilgrim Hill, was widely lauded on it's release, but rather than sit back and wait for Hollywood to come knocking, he's crafted another visceral and potent drama with a host of Irish and international talent. Glassland is a story about relationships and how the strains of life can lead even the strongest bonds to fracture and splint.

Jack Reynor plays John, a young man working a job he's not enamored with in his local suburb, but one on whom his mother is increasingly dependent on to fund her alcoholism. Their relationship forms the core of the film, and both Reyner and Toni Collette as his mother Jean are terrific, turning in the kind of nuanced performances that are essential to lend the story the emotional punch it requires.




John is torn between trying to save his mother from her self-destructive spiral and packing a suitcase to get away from a life that is leaving him soulless and empty. There are other characters who flit in and out of the narrative; Will Poulter as John's friend Shane representing the lure of escape from his squalid existence, and Michael Smiley as an AA counselor representing the duty that John feels bound by to his mother. While it is a movie built around wholly real characters, the star of it all is Barrett whose measured direction lets it all unfold in an unflinching manner.

Barrett never shies away from the fact that John, while trying to choose the right path, grows to resent the person he's trying to save, and he lets the anger and tension between John and Jean bubble over in some incredibly raw and unnerving moments, dotted throughout the movie. While it never reaches the level of despair of the likes of Nil By Mouth, Glassland is still pretty tough viewing at times.
Barrett's second feature marks him as a filmmaker comfortable and confident with his skill. He's put together an uncompromising study of a working class life, and managed to draw some marvellous performances from a talented cast. 

Glassland is vital filmmaking; an honest commentary on the power of family, love, and sometimes, hate.





Dave Higgins

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The Movie Bit: Glassland Review
Glassland Review
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