By Lukas Vojacek
Simon Pegg, a notable comedian, takes an atypical dramatic role in this disturbing indictment of the American healthcare system. Katharine O’Brien also makes a striking debut in this Audience Award nominated feature.
Today I am going to introduce you one of my favourites that is aspiring for the Festival’s Audience Award 2020. Lost Transmissions is a debut for American screenwriter and director Katharine O’Brien. Based on a true story, this minimalistic drama with British stars Simon Pegg and Juno Temple in the lead roles deals with the devastating reality of treating mental disorder in a system that does not seem to be properly working. Moreover, Simon and Katharine honoured the UK premiere of the movie in Glasgow Film Theatre by their presence. Does this piece deserve your vote for the coveted Audience Award?
The film tells the story of Hannah (Juno), a gifted singer and songwriter from Los Angeles who however, never had the chance to sell her talent. Hannah’s life changes dramatically when she meets Theo (Simon), a successful music producer who offers young lady his help with kick-starting her career. Just at the moment when things are finally going well for the heroine, she learns the terrible truth that Theo suffers from schizophrenia and refuses medical treatment. Hannah will have to decide what is more important for her – following her dream, or helping a friend in need.
Lost Transmissions is a very simple film with only few characters involved and intelligible straightforward storyline. Do not expect any complicated action scenes or special effects. Even the script is easily predictable, which is perhaps the only negative aspect of the project. Everything else nevertheless fits and works perfectly. Dialogues are smooth and believable. A strict use of hand-held cameras, sensitive soundtrack and natural lighting create the feeling of intimacy. And most of all, the acting performance by Juno Temple and Simon Pegg are absolutely stunning. Especially Simon has proven that he is not just an entertainer but he can skilfully play serious parts as well. His transformation from the charming gentleman into dangerous freak due mental illness is just brilliant.
I enjoyed the fact that Lost Transmissions is not a classical love story and the relationship between the two protagonists is based solely on friendship and respect. The movie further criticizes the current health care system in US that is according to filmmakers not much helpful to the people, diagnosed with schizophrenia. For the fact, that it was Katharine’s first feature film, I do not think she could have done much better job and if Lost Transmissions manage to grab this year’s Audience Award, it will be in the right hands.
Discussion with authors after the screening was also interesting. Katharine mentioned that she was inspired by her own life as her grandmother suffered from mental illness and she was pleased by the audience’s positive reactions on the movie. Simon Pegg said that he enjoyed working with Juno and Katharine very much. It was actually the first time in his career when he was directed by a woman and it was a wonderful experience for him. He liked the story straight away after reading the script and knew that he wanted to be part of this project.
Moreover, Simon was delighted to play different kind of character than he usually does. He prepared for the part by studying books about schizophrenia and meeting with people who have the condition. Both of the guests were happy they could be at Glasgow Film Festival, albeit for Pegg it was in fact a coincidence as he originally meant to be filming a new Mission Impossible sequel in Italy and had to change his schedule due ongoing coronavirus crisis. Bad things can sometimes bring pleasant surprises.
If you like simple, but powerful stories with a clear message than do not hesitate to give Lost Transmissions your vote. Intimate low-budget drama about friendship and mental disorder is crowned with outstanding acting performance by Simon Pegg who finally got the chance to show the spectators his serious face.
Lost Transmissions was part of the Pioneer strand of the festival and was nominated for the Audience Award at the time of writing. Other films in the Pioneer strand can be found here https://glasgowfilm.org/glasgow-film-festival/shows/pioneer