Slamdance Film Festival Review: MAD

Slamdance Film Festival Review: MAD

With its cerebral, ominous comedy, MAD hits the spot in all the right places.

This enjoyable narrative follows Mel(Maryann Plunkett), shortly after having a “nervous breakdown”, largely caused by a recent divorce but worsened by the lack of support from her two daughters, Casey(Ellis Cahil) and Connie(Jennifer LaFleur). The selfishness and insensitivity of her daughters results in Mel to be committed to a Psychiatric ward, incorporating her with believed insane individuals. Through this journey, Mel gathers a new perspective on life, with the help of the people society looks down on. While this is happening, we follow the downfalls of her two daughters as they struggle with their own lives, and it feels like these are repercussions for the daughters choices early in the movie.

MAD has truly inducedĀ an impact on me for various reasons. Mainly because I’m relatively indecisive on how I feel about it. On one hand, I loved loved loved the films dark humor, and the supporting cast did tremendous work in really filling out the film with such volume. On the other hand, I found the main plot rather weak and without substance. The subplots themselves feel rather rushed and actually take away from the story of Mel’s growth as a person and acceptance of her situation. I would have much rather the focus been solely on the psych ward and what the interesting characters had to offer than follow the downward spiral of that bitch Connie. Connie and Casey as characters add greatly to the film, but I wasn’t interested or invested in what was going on in their lives. I cared about Mel, and how she was doing, and that is how this movie is going to play. Casey and Connie eventually realize the audacity of their actions and words, but to me it is not enough. Maybe my lack of forgiveness of the daughters is indicative of my personality, however I find them both(however particularly Connie), disgusting individuals.

It is a credit to Director/Writer/Producer Robert G. Putka that I feel this way, as he created a pure and complex film with MAD. His characters are well written and invoke powerful emotion with ease. Performances by Plunkett, Cahill, and LaFleur really bring to life the characters that Putka wrote so eloquently. I’d also like to highlight a beautiful performance by Mark Reeb, who was cast as Jerry. I liken his character to the perfect topping on a bowl of Ice Cream. He’s not the reason you love it, but with every instance of this topping, you’re popping with joy. MAD has technical elements that add depth to this film. The score and framing appeal to the dark tone the film uses as a baseline, and allow the colorful moments of this film to shine even brighter.

With all of this negativity in this review, however, I love this imaginative, beautiful film. I love it so much. MAD is a narrative I believe can really be a powerful watch. The type of film that if granted the opportunity, would cause many people to ask their friends and family: “Have you seen thisĀ movie?” That’s what you want in films. Movies that create a dialog and cause the viewer to see a different perspective. These are the types of pictures that allow me love films, and provide an escape from reality. In MAD, I get to live a different life, see the world a different way, and come out of it a better person, and I’m thankful for that.

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