Director – Mikey Murray – 2022 – UK – Cert. 18 – 90m
A woman seeks her way out of a relationship crisis via an affair with a new work colleague – drama masked as deadpan comedy is out in UK cinemas and on demand on Friday, October 6th
Lucy (Eilis Cahill) and Paul (Steve Oram) have grown tired of one another. She works days at an uninspiring office job, bringing in the bread and butter money. He works from home as a screenwriter, with one filmed script to his credit. The film received poor reviews because, as she charitably says, the director did a poor job. Paul is now working on another screenplay, about “a space cadet coming to terms with his sexuality”, and there is a possibility that Nick (Jason Isaacs) might just make it happen.
Hosting a party, the couple give a tour of the premises. Paul opines about the virtues of the bidet in the bathroom – it can wash your cock or your vag if, say, you were at a party – while Luce notices the new bloke from work Daniel (Peter Bankolé) has turned up, presumably invited by one of her work colleagues. It later comes out that Lucy inherited the house, a valuable Edwardian property, from her late parents.
Answering the door, Paul has regular run-ins with the delivery man (Robin Laing), complaining that he guesses what’s in the deliveries (an LP record and a tennis racquet are pretty obvious from their packaging, despite some debate between the two as to with the latter could in fact be a sex aid… SPOILER ALERT: it’s a tennis racquet).
Despite Paul’s apparent lack of exercise – he rarely gets out of the house – he’s ordered the tennis racquet for Luce, a birthday present to help her get out and join the local tennis club because it’s a sport she likes. Although, as she points out, it’s a sport she liked a long time ago. Still, their neighbour Joe (Andrew John Tait), given to doing impromptu keep fit exercises on the adjoining front garden wall (for front garden read four feet between house and pavement), is keen for her to join him for a match at said local club.
But no, soon she’s down the charity shop where Pat (Julia Deakin) is happy to take the racquet off her and equally happy to sell her a squash racquet. Squash has reared its head because Daniel has been teaching Lucy how to play squash over their lunch hour; but after a few such sessions Lucy instead drags him to a hotel room for lunchtime sex.
The real pleasure of watching this film is in its deadpan observation of the minutiae of mundane, everyday, long-term relationship life. Whether it’s Luce complaining that Paul has farted in bed, or her exchanges with work colleague Sue (Pauline Lynch) in the cubicle opposite her, or Paul’s run-ins with the delivery man, there’s a droll comic sensibility evident, aided no end by the deadpan delivery of the two leads. Bankolé as Daniel plays the whole thing much more straight. Despite the humour on the surface, the whole is underpinned by more serious dramatic intent, as becomes apparent as the tale meanders to its grim conclusion.
The whole is shot in striking, crisp, black and white by cinematographer Jack Shelbourn, except for Luce’s occasional, colour fantasies of being outside in the countryside with horses, a would-be break from her stifling, urban existence. Back in black and white, she gazes through a plate glass window at traffic pointlessly travelling backwards around a roundabout.
It may not be a film to rush out an see at the earliest opportunity, but it’s not without a certain satisfying quality and if you fancy seeing something low key at the cinema, you could do an awful lot worse.
Mind-Set is out in cinemas and on demand in the UK on Friday, October 6th.