VOD film review: Mindscape
Chris Bryant | On 30, Aug 2014
Director: Jorge Dorado.
Cast: Mark Strong, Taissa Farmiga, Brian Cox
Watch Mindscape online in the UK: TalkTalk TV / Apple TV (iTunes) / Eircom / Virgin Movies / EE / TalkTalk / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Sky Store
Set in a dimly lit world, Jorge Dorado’s film offers up Mark Strong’s well-publicised ‘concerned face’ for 95 minutes, as he circles a series of mental mysteries. The commonly-yet-poorly named John Washington is a Memory Detective – effectively a psychic – and is dealt the case of Anna (Farmiga). Post-breakdown, Washington must determine whether she’s a victim or a sociopath before her parents have her committed.
Strong does a solid job as the trusting lawman, but he’s played tougher, smarter and more original cops at least twice in his career, and Washington holds little interest to anyone smart enough to second-guess the plot. The story itself isn’t quite broad enough to strike at the heart of right and wrong, nor focused enough to result in an enthralling character piece; well-written enough to keep you guessing, but not quite enough to keep you interested; clever enough not to disappoint, but not clever enough to shock.
Mindscape, like a lot of what occurs in the mind, lands in a grey area. Much of the film resides between places; between horror and thriller, between a gasp and a wince. But a film that takes place in the mind of a possible sociopath – based around interrogation-style back and forth, never knowing who to trust and who to look literally into – isn’t an easy thing not to fail at. Also commendable is Farmiga, playing the hauntingly intelligent girl balanced between trauma and violence. Even as the rest of the film may lead you to one conclusion, Farmiga injects a corrupting dose of uncertainty.
Overall, Dorago’s debut effort (a Spanish/American collaboration) produces individual successes. The dialogue borders on tedious at points – the characters aren’t as sharp as writer Guy Holmes thinks – but the sense of bleak inevitability is overflowing in every scene. Beyond the performances, Mindscape disappears in the no-mans-land between short and long-term memory.