Trailer: Brain on Fire

BrainonFire

Gerard Barrett’s new film Brain on Fire stars Chloë Grace Moretz as Susannah Cahalan, a journalist at the New York Post who suffers from an inexplicable illness that has her hearing voices, hallucinating, battling bouts of paranoia and lashing out during violent episodes.

Described as a a medical mystery psychological drama, the full cast includes Richard Armitage, Carrie-Anne Moss, Tyler Perry, Thomas Mann, Vincent Gale, Nicole LaPlaca, Navid Negahban, Agam Darshi, with an appearance by Jenny Slate

 

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Gerard Barrett on ‘Glassland’

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At a recent screening of Glassland, writer/director Gerard Barrett took part in a post-screening discussion of his film. Gerard began by explaining his intention that the story be one that could be set anywhere. “You don’t see the Luas, you don’t see Dublin buses or anything like that. For me, it’s very much an urban setting somewhere. If the accents were different it could have been somewhere else. Yes, it’s an Irish film and it’s set in Ireland but it’s an international story. It was important for me to make a film that would have an international appeal.”

Assembling a terrific cast, Gerard shot the film in 17 days. “We had Toni Collette for 4 and a half days. We had Will Poulter for 4 days and Michael Smiley for a day and a half. It was great. It was intense. It was raw. It was real. Toni was coming off a huge TV show in America. Jack [Reynor] was coming of Transformers. Will was coming off The Maze Runner and Michael was coming off The World’s End. They were all coming off these huge productions but were ready to be put in to the world of the film. It’s a tough piece to make in a sense but everyone that was there wanted to be there.

“It is a tough film. It’s not for everybody, Someone said to me it’s uplifting… It’s about families coming together and sticking through it. I love hearing that. That is there – you just have to find it. The answers are there on the screen. The film is about the collateral damage of addiction. It’s not about the addict. It’s about the people that are around that person – the chaos, the crisis, the danger. Every family goes through some form of a crisis at some stage. It’s not easy but what’s great is that most families stick together and pull through. In this film that’s the case. You need that one person, that one sibling in every family that will stand up and take control. That’s why I think a lot of people love Jack’s character. He has no smartphone,  no laptop, social media doesn’t come into his life, he doesn’t watch TV or put the radio on in his car. He’s very focused, just listening on his headphones to whatever he’s listening to. He’s on a mission. His job is to keep that family together.”

 

Glassland is in cinemas now

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Glassland

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DIR/WRI: Gerard Barrett • PRO: Juliette Bonass, Ed Guiney  • DOP: Piers McGrail • ED: Nathan Nugent • DES: Stephanie Clerkin  • Cast: Will Poulter, Toni Collette, Jack Reynor, Michael Smiley, Harry Nagle

Sometimes a movie will come on the receiving end of the positive side of a double standard by film critics and audiences alike. Gerard Barrett’s first movie Pilgrim Hill was granted some of those respites, with defenders often claiming, “Look what he managed to do with such a small budget?” or “Can you imagine he was only 26 when that movie came out?” Lovers and haters alike now have Barrett’s follow-up in their sights, as he folds in an all-star cast and an accompanying healthy budget. Thankfully, Barrett the director rises to the challenge, even if Barrett the screenwriter sometimes leaves us short-changed.

Try to avoid the movie’s IMDb page, or any kind of synopsis if you can, as the official version of the movie’s plot tells a slightly different story to the one you’ll actually sit down to watch. All we’ll say is that Shane (Jack Reynor) is a young Dublin based taxi driver, attempting to deal with his alcoholic mother (Toni Colette) and a best-friend (Will Poulter) whose impending departure to Australia will see Shane’s last connection to a somewhat normal life being cut away. There are later developments including an addiction specialist (Michael Smiley) and a third-act plot-intrusion which threatens to derail all the subtle work done up until then, but for the most part it’s a quiet (and sometimes not so quiet) two hander between Reynor and Colette, or Reynor and Poulter.

Much like Pilgrim Hill, Barrett loves leaving the camera on each scene just a little bit too long, and more often than not it works in his favour, resulting in a level of honest uncomfortableness from each of the actors when they’re not faced with an easy “Cut!” This same patience can sometimes result in scenes that drag on for far too long, especially one which seems to focus on a closed door for almost ten seconds after everyone else has left the scene, and even at a scant 93 minutes, some judicious editing would’ve shaved at least ten minutes away.

Getting some amazing performances from his cast – one car-based breakdown from Reynor in particular will remind those blinded by Trans4mers that he’s actually a talented actor – and presenting Dublin neither as a glittering metropolis nor a drug-infused sink-hole, but actually as it really is, Barrett has already made a huge jump in quality from his last outing. We can’t wait to see what he accomplishes with feature number three Brain On Fire, as we’re sure Barrett the director will continue to go from strength to strength. Here’s hoping Barrett the screenwriter doesn’t remain too far behind.

Rory Cashin

15A (See IFCO for details)
92 minutes

Glassland is released 17th April 2015

Glassland – Official Website

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Glassland – Review of Irish Film at Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2015

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Anthony Assad delves into Gerard Barrett’s Glassland, which screened as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

 

John (Jack Reynor) lives a life of monotony driving a taxi, often pulling late night shifts just to keep afloat while playing parent to his alcoholic mother Jean (Toni Collette). When John attempts to sober her up and encourage a reconnection with her younger son Kit (Harry Nagle) all hell breaks loose as John’s off-the-meter pick up jobs take a dark and desperate turn to fund his thankless efforts.

Gerard Barrett’s previous feature Pilgrim Hill was a monumental film from the then debutant writer/director, working from a truly miniscule budget that managed to capture the hearts and minds of audiences nationwide, even skimming the pond to achieve resonance across UK, US and Chinese theatres in 2013. Going on to garner the Rising Star Award at the IFTAs meant that expectations were inevitably sky high in the run-up to that all important second feature and I’m happy to say the Dublin premiere of Glassland at this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film Festival proved that his is a star still on a safe and steady rise.

Swapping the rural for the urban may seem like quite a risqué tonal shift but just like the former environs of Pilgrim Hill, Dublin in Glassland is similarly populated by the lost and lonely-hearted with tense familial relations and tethered responsibilities once again the resounding themes. All of these rest upon John’s shoulders who’s caught up in the same vicious circle day after day, he wonders when his mother will come home knowing full well that when she does he’ll have to pick up the pieces. His nights prove just as loathsome with wheels spinning running circles around the city streets picking up strangers and sex workers for a living that quite simply isn’t living. Reynor carries the role with an air of disembodiment, channelling a husk of young man weighed down by the duties an absent father and self-destructive mother have forced upon him. During a habitual visit to A&E, however, the doctors’ reveal that Jean is effectively drinking herself to death and an intervention is at hand, which she’ll prove to fight tooth and nail against.

As such, Toni Collette delivers a ferocious performance as Jean, a granite-faced ghost of a woman walking among the living, haunting her son and would be saviour for prolonging a life she feels has long since past, hers to end however and whenever she so wishes. And yet, there’s a soft core, evoked by an impromptu party scene fuelled by cheap wine and music administered by John to loosen tongues and heartstrings so to get to the bottom of what she’s been running from before going cold turkey. The means to this end is an expertly poised scene as mother and son dance in each other’s arms to Soft Cell’s ‘Tainted Love’ before a clever jump cut leads us towards a harrowing confession that really pushes the prowess of the proceedings, especially Reynor and Collette’s quietly chaotic heart to heart, a world away from the dish throwing teeth baring savagery of prior scenes and yet all the more powerful.

The rest from the wicked is shared among scenes with John and Shane (Will Poulter), his go-to friend whose antics provide some welcome, if not sometimes, guiltily enjoyed comic relief (the video-store dust-up comes to mind). It’s not just a pit stop from the drama however as Barrett creates an interesting duality between the two to highlight the life John has been deprived of. Shane is jobless, living at home off his all too accommodating mother and plotting a hell-raising break away from Dublin, in-between the important stuff like playing video games and avoiding movie rental fees for his own obnoxious amusement. He also found time to father a young child from a one-night stand, obviously not ideal scenarios but these follies of youth are rites of passage, mistakes John can never afford to make (and learn from) when forced instead to look after a stranger in his own home who breaks his heart everyday. Accordingly Reynor downplays the gaiety of their activities, more a silent observer, seeking to revert to his friend’s carefree mind-set but constantly aware and distracted by the myriad of responsibilities all around him.

John’s only fault is that his heart is too big, he alone attends his brother Kit’s eighteenth birthday party struggling to explain why their mother isn’t present and why Kit can’t live with them when in truth it’s because Jean never accepted and blames her life’s downfall because of his down syndrome. Again John is playing the parent and the older brother, the latter letting loose when he joyrides at his brother’s request, and in tow, around an empty car park. When he’s forced to reprimand his mother and drag her to a rehab clinic John’s pushed beyond his limits and loses it, as much for her sake as his, in a stand-out scene that reverberates throughout the rest of the movie and long after the credits roll.

She needs 24-hour surveillance for at least a month to sober-up in a controlled environment where she can push through the withdrawal but even a favour from former addict and councillor Jim (Michael Smiley) is an expense John can only afford if he ups his dark dealings with an illegal trafficker. He’s given an address to pick ‘something’ up for delivery and the resulting scene proves how far into hell and back again he’s willing to venture for his family. He enters the desolate house on the outskirts of town tip-toeing from darkness into light with the camera creeping along behind him like Peter Pan’s shadow, mocking what little innocence he has left in a heart-stopping scene paced to perfection.

There’s heaps of drama (some of it heavy-handed), but the moments of silence coupled with long locked-off compositions of seemingly natural light illuminating unnatural events will either pull you to the edge of your seat or out of the narrative. Yes, the pace may upset some, but it’s a journey that avoids the pitfalls of its genre (gratuitous sex and violence) to reach a destination fuelled by an earnest and unflinching eye.

Deservedly the film went on to win Best Film at the Galway Film Fleadh complimenting Reynor’s nod at Sundance for his outstanding performance and recently picked up the Best Irish Film award at JDIFF and the Michael Dwyer Discovery for cinematographer Piers McGrail’s inimitable contribution. This really is Irish cinema at its best, a truly transcendent and palpable experience shedding glorious light on an issue all too relevant from a bold and emphatic director at the top of his game.

Glassland screened on Friday, 27th March 2015 at the Light House Cinema as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

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Official Trailer for Gerard Barrett’s ‘Glassland’ Released Online

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The new official trailer for Gerard Barrett’s Glassland has just been released. Featuring Toni Collette, Jack Reynor and Will Poulter, Glassland opens in cinemas on April 17th.

Glassland also screens at this year’s Jameson Dublin International Film

In in a desperate bid to save his mother (Toni Collette) from addiction and unite his broken family, a young taxi driver ( Jack Reynor) on the fringes of the criminal underworld is forced to take a job which will see him pushed further into its underbelly. But will John be prepared to act when the time comes knowing that whatever he decides to do, his and his family’s lives will be changed forever.

 

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Jack Reynor Awarded Special Jury Prize at Sundance

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Jack  Reynor  was awarded a special Jury Prize  at the closing ceremony for the 2015 Sundance Film Festival in Park City for his performance in Gerard Barrett’s Glassland.


Speaking on the award Reynor commented ‘I’m absolutely thrilled to have been considered and to have won a prize at Sundance this year. It’s definitely a reflection of the work of everybody who was part of the film and I’m incredibly proud to have worked with all of them.’

 

Glassland is written and directed by Gerard Barrett and produced by Ed Guiney and Juliette Bonass for Element Pictures in association with Barrett’s Nine Entertainment. The film is financed by the Irish Film Board and Element Pictures Distribution who will release the film in the UK and Ireland. Executive producers are Andrew Lowe and Gerard Barrett.
 
 
Irish audiences will have the chance to see Glassland  when it goes on nationwide release on April 17th, 2015.
 
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Glassland – Review of Irish Film at the Galway Film Fleadh

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David Gorman checks out Glassland, Gerard Barrett’s highly anticipated follow up to Pilgrim Hill. Glassland screened at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh.

The atmosphere in the Town Hall Theatre, the epicentre of the Galway Film Fleadh, had an air of eagerness and excitement about it on Friday night. Two years ago, in the same venue, a young unknown filmmaker was about to emerge on to the Irish film scene with his debut feature, Pilgrim Hill.

Pilgrim Hill (2012) evoked critical acclaim from Ireland and abroad was the most talked about film of that year, resulting in writer/director Gerard Barrett winning Rising Star Award at the IFTAs.  So the excitement and anticipation at this year’s Fleadh for Barrett’s second feature, Glassland, was justified. Barrett, who also wrote both films, is a self-proclaimed proud Kerry man, who was compared to the great Irish playwright John. B Keane when the film was being introduced by the former Minister of Arts.  The irony of both of his films premiering in a theatre and not a cinema was not lost on me.

Barrett says about his second feature, “I come from a close family and I have never known anything else, but the reality is that there are plenty of broken families in Ireland and I wanted to explore that.” It is never easy to follow a successful debut and the pressure that goes with that can distract the best of filmmakers. However, there is an air of confidence about Barrett and it is refreshing to see a young man (Barrett is still only 27) with such passion about storytelling and I am glad that he chose the medium of cinema to convey those stories and not the stage like the comparative Keane.

Glassland progresses at a slow pace and there is a certain amount of patience required, but it is well worth it. Jean (Toni Collette) is slowing killing herself with alcohol and John (Jack Reynor), her son, is her only hope of survival but he is on the verge of a breakdown himself. Reynor’s character is obviously under strain and his family situation is making him sacrifice not only living his life, but possibly putting it at risk also. Reynor has a strong screen presence and can hold the attention of the viewer in long scenes without dialogue or a manipulating score. Toni Collette is unflinchingly raw, almost unrecognisable from the glamour of Hollywood that some might relate her to. She is 100% believable in the role. The strong, believable performances from the lead characters engage the viewer and there is an honesty and sincerity that pervades the film. The writing/dialogue is at times brutally frank but then this frankness is juxtaposed with moments of comedy that resulted in laugh-out-loud moments in the packed theatre.

There are certainly similarities with Pilgrim Hill, the sense of ‘anywhere’ shows why these films are so relatable, the only indication that both films are based in Ireland are the accents, brilliantly pulled off in Glassland by Australian Toni Collette and Will Poulter from England who plays John’s friend. Poulter is responsible for the comedic elements that ease the palpable tension among the audience at times. There is an honesty about Glassland and, again, like Pilgrim Hill, Barrett is certainly not afraid to depict the harsh truth of life in modern Ireland. Another clear similarity between the two films is that the viewer is completely immersed in the main character’s world, which in both cases are claustrophobic, repetitive and mundane.

This film is the type that grows on you as time passes; it dominated the conversation over breakfast the next morning. We need more films like this that explore the prevalent issues in contemporary Irish life –  addiction, emigration, and a sense of isolation from mainstream society. It is fair to say that not everyone might enjoy the pace or visual style over a dialogue-driven narrative. Nevertheless, these are stories that need to be told in Ireland by Irish filmmakers and Barrett is telling them with compassion, subtlety and refreshing honesty. A well-made mature second feature.

Click here for our coverage of Irish Film at the 26th Galway Film Fleadh  (8 – 13 July, 2014)

 

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Glassland: Preview of Irish Film at the Galway Film Fleadh

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The 26th Galway Film Fleadh (8 – 13 July, 2014)

Glassland

Fri 11th July

Town Hall Theatre

20.00

Following the success of his debut Irish feature, Pilgrim Hill, Gerard Barrett is back with his new film, Glassland, which premieres at Galway next week. Glassland explores the grim realities of life for those pushed to the fringes of society in contemporary Ireland. Produced by Element Pictures, the film boasts a talented cast that includes Jack Reynor (What Richard Did, Transformers: Age of Extinction), Toni Collette (Sixth Sense, Little Miss Sunshine) and Michael Smiley (A Field in England).

Director Barrett said that, “The Galway Film Fleadh gave my debut film Pilgrim Hill a platform, and it’s a privilege for me to go back and launch my second film Glassland there. Miriam and Gar played their part in launching my career and it’s a great honour to return where new filmmakers are valued and encouraged.”

Barrett will be looking to mimic the success he gained after his last outing, Pilgrim Hill, premiered at the Fleadh two years ago, winning him the Bingham Ray New Talent Award followed by the 2013 IFTA Rising Star Award.

Set in Dublin, Glassland tells the story of a young taxi driver (Reynor) who is forced to descend ever further into a criminal underworld while trying to save his mother (Collette) from a crippling alcohol addiction.

Tickets are available to book from the Town Hall Theatre on 091 569777, or at www.tht.ie

Director Gerard Barrett will attend the screening. 

Director Gerard Barrett

Cast Jack Reynor, Michael Smiley, Toni Collette, Will Poulter

Script Gerard Barrett

Producers Juliette Bonass, Ed Guiney

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