The Movie Waffler New Release Review - MIND-SET | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - MIND-SET

Mind-Set review
A disenchanted woman questions her relationship when she falls for a new work colleague.

Review by Benjamin Poole

Directed by: Mikey Murray

Starring: Eilis Cahill, Steve Oram, Peter Bankolé, Julia Deakin, Jason Isaacs

Mind-Set poster

As a lapsed cineaste, I used to wish that my life was in black and white. Imagine! The silvered mise-en-scene of existence automatically rendered more glamourous and more serious, with even the most mundane interactions lent a patina of monochrome charm. It would make what is mainly quite routine and unremarkable at least visually interesting. Nowadays, it would be useful, too, if my life had a black and white simplicity in terms of human relations; the interpersonal exchanges and emotional experiences which make up life. Take the couple at the centre of Mikey Murray's Mind-Set, which is shot in indie B&W: the honeymoon period is long gone, and both are not only contending with strains of pernicious mental illness but also the intimidating stretch of The Rest Of Their Lives Together, a boundless period characterised by tedious complications of loyalty, the loss (almost like grief, I would imagine) of the person you initially fell for, and just a crushing drill of shared existence holding the whole thing together. Talk about shades of grey.

Mind-Set review

But not in the modern sense of the idiom. In Mind-Set the sex has faded to a particularly ashen hue as we open with a cringe mandating quasi-sex scene of abortive coupling, characterised by habit and relief rather than lust and urgent desire. Lucy (Eilis Cahill) wanks off Paul (Steve Oram) with the same grimly aggressive determination with which you or I would attempt to unblock a sink. Masturbating someone else is hard work at the best of times, and Cahill's thousand-yard stare illustrates that the sheen has long since fallen off this relationship. In these opening moments, Cahill and Oram adeptly establish a relationship recognisably lived in and dog eared with contemptuous familiarity.

Through dreamy flashbacks to a horse in a field, which is filmed in the stuttering saturated dyes of 8mm (hmmm) we know that Lucy longs for escape, a desire infused with nostalgia as her present, working in An Office as a resting actor, is colourless AF. Paul isn't much to come home too, either, where he exists in a perpetual state of stasis as an agoraphobe working on an unlikely screenplay. Oram continues here to perfect his persona as a variably threatening, socially repulsive slob with an achingly human heart beneath; we see him demonstrating the relative benefits of a bidet to an aghast group of guests, along with the pass-agg relationship he enjoys with the Amazon delivery guy, but then sweetly making dinner later for Lucy when she returns from boring work.

Mind-Set review

The tile refers to Lucy and Paul's respective psychologies, but also the stagnancy of their lives. Paul orders Lucy a tennis racket - she used to play when she was a kid - but, of course, not another for himself as he can't step out of the door: Mind, Set, but no Match. No wonder Lucy is drawn to the office newbie with his squash player physique  (Daniel - Peter Bankolé). In keeping with the unflinching sexual representation of the opening, their ensuing affair is defined by clumsiness and disappointment, which I always imagine would be the ultimate experience of such transgressions (people in unfulfilled relationships who embark on such things must have very desperate hopes for whatever they imagine they'll find at the bottom/end of the illicitly offered genitals).

Mind-Set review

Central to the film is Cahill's performance, and she is magnetic in her awkward physicality and star struck beauty (how she looks is "text", her thin frame pointedly referred to in the film) with her captivating ethereality duly contrasted by Oram's whimsical meatiness. The soured chemistry of Lucy and Paul powers Mind-Set, which is otherwise almost too successful in its moribund familiarity of a dead-end relationship. The film eventually finds itself in a bit of a cul-de-sac and finishes with a melodramatic denouement which feels less a brutaliser of an ending and more like an unforced error.

Mind-Set is in UK cinemas and on VOD from October 6th.

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