Cinema Review: The Mend | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, August 11th, 2022  

The Mend

Studio: Cinelicious
Directed by John Magary

Aug 24, 2015 Web Exclusive
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I was a little surprised to learn that The Mend was writer/director John Magary’s debut featuire: the film’s textured arguments, precise camera work, and naturalistically idisyncratic dialogue (watch it and that will make sense) feels as if he’s been doling out tales of human folly and misanthropy for years.

Magary’s film focuses on two brothers, Alan (Stephen Plunkett) and Mat (Josh Lucas), two formerly estranged brothers brought together once again when the latter shows up on the former’s couch during a party, slouched and ready to wreak havoc. Lucas, scruffy and wearing a devil-may-care look, seems to have had a history of trouble. He’s most obviously an asshole. But, then again, so is his preppy-looking brother, who’s able to hide under the guise of pseudo-intellectualism to mask his abrasiveness. The primary difference between Mat and Alan is just the facial hair, and the fact that while both are essentially harbingers of doom, Alan is at least somewhat cognizant of that. Magary pushes into Alan’s smug, apathetic face, his body language as indicative

But in a way, it all seems at once performative and deeply human. The Mend has spurts of relationships drama - some with Alan’s ex-girlfriend and her son, some with Mat’s girlfriend and soon-to-be fiance (a superb Mickey Sumner) - and it’s curious how the dynamics between the boys and their significant others complements the dynamic they have with one another. In both relationships, characters call out each other for exactly how performative those relationships are, particularly the ceremonies and routines that are involved in cultivating and crafting them. From cumming on someone’s face to actively “getting along” fraternally, there’s a deep self-loathing that’s encoded into every character’s actions, exacerbated by the precision of Magary’s composition and blocking.

Crucial to this is this odd paradox: there’s an attractiveness and a repugnance to Mat and Alan. They’re both so assholeish, which, in itself isn’t totally interesting—thank god this isn’t a film about the crisis of masculinity, though—but there’s something elusive and appealing about them. They’re toxic, but fascinatingly so. Daddy issues, the inability to sustain real domesticity, or even confront their own performative selves. Magary has, with The Mend, shown himself a bourgening master at exploring the implications and underpinnings of misanthropy and self-loathing, with acerbic wit and carefully laid-out empathy. Nothing is fixed, but nothing has to be for it to feel real.

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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