Mind-Set: Review. By Andrew Prosser.
Mike Murray’s Mind-Set is going to make me just a little bit sad the next time I see a discarded tennis racquet somewhere, I just know it.
There isn’t much Mind-Set throws at viewers that we haven’t seen before. There’s many a trope at play here, and much like the dwindling flame of domestic romance the film depicts, it too suffers from being a bit too familiar. It would be impossible to watch Eilis Cahill’s Lucy roll her eyes through the endlessly repeated argument with her boyfriend Paul (Steve Oram) over who should go the store for groceries without recalling the infinite identical disputes we already know all too well, be that from years of film and television, or perhaps with our actual past-and-present significant others (Togetherness and the later seasons of Peep Show come to mind for me personally).
But familiarity isn’t, in and of itself, all bad. The voyeuristic experience of leaning over the slovenly Paul’s shoulder as we watch him failing his partner again and again, he completely unaware of how badly he’s pooching it, us frustratingly powerless to stop him – it all feels a bit like a definitional example of dramatic irony out of a theatre arts textbook, but it’s also effective. So too is watching with a sense of slowly impending doom as the slighted Lucy of course, inevitably succumbs to her most (self) destructive tendencies. The wheel is very far from being reinvented here, but if it all feels a little formulaic, that’s because the formula works.
The one small and impressive wrinkle Murray has added to his script to move past the tired conventions we know (and love?) comes in the third act. Up until then we as an audience had bonded with both Paul and with Lucy primarily as we watched them endure the other’s worst behaviours, but eventually Murray turns a corner and lays bare the spectres that haunt both characters’ psyches, which colours those behaviours if it still does not excuse them.
Still, the rare moments where the characters understand the struggles the other is under and are supportive rather than combative, give the film a lot of heart, and were it not for the bizarre abruptness of its ending, these scenes might propel the film past the land of Obscure Cultural Footnotes, but sadly the last thirty seconds so thoroughly undermine the preceding hour and a half, that if this film is remembered by anyone, undoubtedly, that will be why.
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