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Review: Glassland

March 11, 2016

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

Glassland PosterJohn (Jack Reynor) is a young man struggling to make money as a taxi driver in Ireland, forced to take care of his severely alcoholic mother (Toni Collette), who is slowly killing herself in drunken stupors, finding it too painful to face her broken life.

But the pressure is weighing down on John to find much needed help, while also being the only family member left to look out for his brother Kit (Harry Nagle), who has Down Syndrome and lives in a group home, having been all but abandoned by their mother.  John hangs out with his buddy Shane (Will Poulter), who is equally lost in his life.  They talk of getting away, but we don’t know if they ever truly will.

Jack Reynor anchors this indie drama with a moving and completely naturalistic performance, stoically trying to take care of his mother, but allowing his stress to show through in nervous tics like his fingers constantly drumming on surfaces.  Between this and his excellent supporting role in the upcoming Sing Street, he’s quickly proving himself as a great young actor.  Toni Collette delivers emotionally bare supporting work, and a heartbreaking extended scene halfway through where she reveals the exceedingly depressing story of her life might just be one of her finest moments.  Will Poulter nicely displays pent up angst.

This is a gritty drama that delves headlong into the stark realism of seemingly incurable alcoholism, unfolding in an almost hermetically sealed town where little hope is allowed to escape.  There is a constantly dreary backdrop of clouds and rain, captured through a stark lens by director Gerard Barrett, who does assured work behind the camera.  Although it’s almost uncompromisingly bleak to watch, Glassland is worth seeing for the rock solid performances of Jack Reynor, Toni Collette and Will Poulter, who all get their chance to shine in several emotionally charged scenes.

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