Directed by: #MikeMurray
Written by: #MikeMurray
Starring: #EilisCahill, #SteveOram
Film Review by: Emily Davison
A disillusioned office clerk who despises her job and lives in a dysfunctional relationship with her slovenly partner, finds herself on the cusp of an affair with her new work colleague. The thrill of the chase distracts her from a problematic life, but will this blossoming relationship solve what is missing?
Mind-set (2022) is a British indie comedy/drama, written and directed by award winning filmmaker Mike Murray and has already gone on to win the Jury Prize for Best UK Feature at the Manchester International Film Festival (MANIFF). The film presents a terrific blend of sharp comedy and poignant drama, focusing on the mundane domesticities of the everyday life of a couple trying to navigate their jobs and their complicated relationship.
Within the first five minutes, we already gain an understanding of Lucy (Cahill) and her screenwriter boyfriend, Paul (Oram), who share an intimate sexual scene in bed which feels distant and awkward, the both of them immediately going on their phones once finished. Murray’s choice for black and white cinematography certainly adds a distinct, appealing quality to the visual aesthetic of the movie, highlighting the timeless quality of his screenplay involving a couple experiencing relationship issues. The narrative is grounded in domestic living, with relatable scenarios taking place throughout which many couples will probably be able to identify with, such as a petty argument over who should go and buy bread, or when Lucy thoroughly enjoys the first bite of cheese and bean toast Paul makes for her. These simple moments make for immersive viewing as we are invited into the day to day lives of this couple.
Murray demonstrates an admirable talent for the captivating visual storytelling he exhibits in the film, with a certain avant-garde style coming across in his creative framing choices. There are many nice edits between scenes, where a doorway will fade into a perfectly synced long shot of Lucy walking down a street, or a particularly striking moment where Paul dresses up in his old tennis gear and attempts to leave the house, only to become panicked and overwhelmed by his surroundings, the picture softening in contrast and the sound of dogs barking increasing. There are also short sequences featuring serene, coloured film footage of a picturesque park and a black horse. It becomes clear later on in the film that this location is Lucy’s happy place where she feels the most herself, demonstrated by the splash of colour to the footage.
The movie involves a touching exploration of mental health in women at the centre of its screenplay, even though there are plenty of funny moments scattered throughout. A special shout out must go to Steve Oram for his hilarious, vulgar line delivery and on point comic timing. His characters comes across as completely inappropriate and stubborn in his ways, stuck in a slobbish lifestyle as he struggles to finish his screenplay. Lucy, who relies on pills every day to keep a sane mind, starts flushing them down the toilet, resulting in her demeanour changing and she becomes more reactive to situations around her, calling people out on controversial opinions and behaviours which lead to plenty of witty moments. However, when she meets Daniel (Peter Bankole) at a party and they begin playing Squash together, her life becomes even more complicated and something romantic brews between them, leading to certain revelations in a hotel room. Eilis Cahill is also brilliant in the film, authentically capturing the different mood swings in Lucy and the changes to her mental state, which Murray examines with genuine care and thoughtfulness.
Mind-set is a clever, engrossing comedy drama which does not shy away from delving into the realistic experiences of dysfunctional couples and the struggles of mental health plaguing everyday life. Performances are great across the board and the direction is bold and captivating, making for an hour and a half definitely worth investing your time in!