Gerard Barrett's Glassland is a film about a good, honest man who finds himself in a desperate situation, being an examination of morality, love, hope, and loss. The film is centered around John, who lives with his mother, Jean, in South Dublin. Eeking out barely enough money as a taxi driver to support himself and his mother, John finds himself at the end of his rope, due primarily to his mother's crippling alcohol addiction. On a daily basis John returns home from working the night shift to find his mother unconscious from copious amounts of alcohol. Jean violently rejects any attempt John makes to truly help her, but after her latest hospitalization due to excessive drinking, John decides that his mother's only hope may be a private rehab center. With no insurance or financial means to afford such a facility, John is forced into the world of petty crime, testing his own morality in an attempt to help save his mother from her crippling addiction. Tough, spare, and honest, Gerard Barrett's Glassland is not an easy experience, being a film deadset on capturing the destructive capabilities alcohol addiction can have on loved ones. Told almost entirely through the eyes of John, Glassland is a film that asks the tough questions about love and family, exploring a man who finds his empathy and love for his mother tested by her volatile and vicious nature. Played wonderfully by Toni Collette, John's mother, Jean, has a presence before she even graces the screen, with Glassland's cinematography presenting a home covered in shadows, where not much sunlight penetrates the dark hallways and poorly lit rooms of the household. This darker, colder, visual palette creates a lot of silhoutte imagery, as Glassland uses these visuals as a visual representation of the emotions of John as a character, a man whose good-nature is slowly being consumed by the darkness of his mother's volatile addiction. Toni Collette's Jean character can be quite monstrous at times, but Glassland still offers moments of tenderness and empathy, exhibiting a woman whose vulnerability led her to the bottle, a character who deep down wants to get better but simply can't conquer her own demons. John is a character who is being buried by his mother's actions, and while one could never question his love and commitment towards his mother, Glassland makes it clear that this is a burden that in turn may bury him in the process. Essentially the complete opposite of a feel-good movie, Glassland is far from an easy watch, but the way the film explores one man's burden is a fascinating one, with the filmmakers making the tough statements about love and the tough decisions such as letting go of those who can't be saved.
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