Connect

 

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A debut feature born of finding subject matter about which the filmmaker feels deeply.

 
Connect

Kevin Guthrie

  

With this film Marilyn Edmond moves up a grade from assistant director to director while also being the producer and - in a bold but foolhardy way - providing the screenplay too. If that is a full commitment, it is consistent with her depth of concern regarding the chosen subject matter. Connect begins with a pre-credit scene showing a man on a cliff top leaping to his death. The setting is North Berwick and what propels this film is Edmond's reaction to two statistics, one being that the number of male suicides that occur on the UK each week is as high as eighty-four and the other that in Scotland today suicide is the chief cause of death in males under the age of forty-five.

 

I must admit that the intensity of feeling on this issue communicated by the film has influenced my rating because, despite some good acting and telling location photography in colour and 'Scope, Connect is something of a mess. The central character, Brian played by Kevin Guthrie, is a young man who early on in the movie is saved from suicide by an older man, Jeff (Stephen McCole), who runs a local Day Centre to help the elderly. Encouraged by Jeff to be positive, Brian volunteers his services there and meets Jeff's daughter, Sam (Siobhan Reilly), who is looking after her young daughter following the break-up of her marriage to the obnoxious Simon (Neil Leiper).

 

The early scenes in the film underline its wish to express how important it is for depressives to connect to those around them, but the dialogue tends to feel set up to make these points. Later on, having offered no clear view as to why Brian should be suicidal, the film moves away from that aspect to tell of the budding romance between Brian and Sam but here the writing becomes clich├ęd and often inept. Examples of this include Sam's sudden change of heart after her initial doubts about becoming involved with Brian and also a contrived plot point crucial to the development of their relationship. The latter occurs when, without warning or explanation, Brian leaves Sam's bed in the middle of the night to assist his sister, Debbie (Sara Vickers), at a moment of matrimonial crisis.

 

The darker theme of Brian's suicidal tendencies does return at the close but, if it now explains some puzzling images inserted earlier, it also goes against the naturalism of the main narrative. Up to that point, the players do much to hold it together but they are fighting a screenplay which suggests early work by somebody who needs more experience. Even so, it does count for quite a lot that Connect conveys so clearly the passionate involvement felt by Marilyn Edmond for the issues at the heart of this picture.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Kevin Guthrie, Siobhan Reilly, Stephen McCole, Sara Dickens, Conor McCarron, Cameron Fulton, Jennifer Black, Thomas Wilson, Peter Kelly, Neil Leiper, Simon Weir.

 

Dir Marilyn Edmond, Pro Marilyn Edmond, Screenplay Marilyn Edmond, Ph Laura Dinnett, Pro Des Fred McMillan, Ed Sarah Louise Bates, Music Benjamin McMillan, Costumes Nadine Powell.

 

Angel Face Productions-Angel Face Productions.
105 mins. UK. 2019. Rel: 25 October 2019. Cert. 15.