Filmmaking is certainly an important form of self-expression, but not all films are created equal;  sometimes a film comes out that serves no purpose, makes no impact and leaves no impression.  Gerard Barrett’s Glassland is a perfect example of such a film.  His film completely lacks any purpose other than to be a series of images giving an illusion of motion on a screen.  Glassland never rises above a TV-movie-of-the-week, and its attempts at slow and contemplative cinema just look meandering and clunky.  It has so little to say about so many things.

In a contemporary Dublin, a young man attempts to help his alcoholic mother from her addiction and somehow ends up in human trafficking.  If that concept sounds a bit forced, it absolutely is;  this film has no room for nuance nor subtlety.  However, Toni Collette is incredible as Jean, the mother in trouble.  Her performance is pure pathos, jumping from rage to hollowness without skipping a beat.  Complimenting Collette is Michael Smiley’s turn as an Alcoholics Anonymous advocate.  The audience is shown impressive range that this understated actor is capable of.

The biggest problem with Glassland is that it is ultimately an amalgamation of other films.  Everything that’s portrayed here has been executed better by other filmmakers: Days of Wine and Roses covered the hardships of alcoholism on family well over half a century before this, Frozen River took on the idea of a poor individual needing to deal in human trafficking, and a variety of films have shown the modern struggle of the lower-class male in an unforgiving world.  While not every new film needs to be fully original and independent of any previous material, it does become a bit problematic when a film has no originality to it whatsoever.

Following its March 11 theatrical release in Canada, Glassland will be available on VOD on March 15.  Even with that option on the table, those previously mentioned films I wrote about earlier are also available for home viewing.  After Days of Wine and Roses and Frozen River, may I suggest La Haine to cap off your triple bill?


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