Glassland (dir. Gerard Barrett)
Unfortunately in terms of audience expectation Irishman Gerard Barrett's Glassland suffers from a somewhat misleading logline, "In a desperate attempt to reunite with his broken family, our young taxi driver becomes entangled in the criminal underworld." The criminal element is a minor part of this film which only rears its head in the final moments. At best Glassland carries on the tradition of British kitchen sink films, albeit Ireland here, but still a vivid depiction of characters struggling to make ends meets amid the demoralizing plague of alcoholism. In this case it's Toni Collette as the alcoholic mother of Jack Reynor's character, himself a humble cab driver so desperate to clean up his mother and, as the logline asserts, reunite his family. A slow pace without much proactivity from its hero there's that sense of us waiting for something to happen. We separately want Reynor to delve into this underworld proclaimed by the logline, but the sympathetic portrayal of the doomed mother and the heroic son engage us. Barrett thankfully lifts us out of the squalor with a strong dose of optimism even at the film's bleakest moments. There's also a minor discovey of a potential star in newbie Jack Reynor.
James White (dir. Josh Mond)
It's the Christopher Abbott and Cynthia Nixon show for this intense mother-son pic. As the title character it's a major showcase for Abbott, a supporting actor, always interesting thanks in large part to his glossy but deeply penetrating eyes. He carries this picture and then some as a miscreant on a downward trajectory of self destruction. Ironically its the illness of his mother which brings him out of oblivion and might just get him on the straight and narrow. Director Josh Mond, in first five minutes or so never leaves Abbott's face in full frame closeup. Thankfully he relaxes to a more traditional visual approach but this opening signals the risky adventurousness of his story and point of view.