When John snaps and reaches his threshold he signs her in to a facility that he cannot possibly afford. Then faced with an impossible choice of finding money or letting his mum die he turns to a local crime boss and soon finds himself committing a reprehensible crime.
GLASSLAND packs a wallop and you don't even realise it's full impact until it's over. On the surface it is a drawn-out performance piece with a straightforward narrative, but as the characters develop the story unfolds and it becomes an ugly and sinister portrait of poverty, mental health and exploitation. Although more subtle with its themes GLASSLAND lives in that soul-destroying place where films like THE WAR ZONE, NIHL BY MOUTH and TYRANASAURUS already reside.
Toni Collette and Jack Reynor give two outstanding performances that constantly rival each other, and just as Reynor delivers a phenomenon piece of acting, Collette steps in and raises the bar with a monologue that wipes the floor with his. It is a power-play that alternates throughout the entire film, unbeknownst to either of them, and makes it a truly absorbing and heartbreaking viewing experience.
There is little to be said for the technical aspects of GLASSLAND with its modest and simplistic production design. Shots are held on the characters for lengths of time, exploring the pain within the silence, and almost the entire film is shot in close-up. It is a controlled use of the camera that provides a level of intimacy that demands honesty and perfection from the performers. Toni Collette is one of the most gifted actresses of her generation, and it is these small independent films that showcase her strengths. She outdoes herself here, and much of that is thanks to Reynor's impeccable counter-act.
Sadness, heartbreak, disenchantment, anger, joy and hope. If you're as susceptible to performance and storytelling as I am then be warned that you're going to run this emotional gamut too. GLASSLAND is an understated gem.