John Magary's The Mend is an impressive debut feature film about family dysfunction, cynicism, and happiness, telling the story of two estranged brothers in Mat and Alan, who each have their own ways of concealing their restlessness with the world around them. Mat wears his disdain in a much more open way, embracing it with a crude demeanor and do-what-I-want attitude that shows little empathy for anyone or anything that stand in his way. On the other hand is Alan, who buries his discontent inside himself, which inevitably leads to his long-time girlfriend beginning to question their long-term future as a couple. Through unexpected circumstances, Mat and Alan become reunited as roommates of sorts, sharing a New York apartment where they drown their discontent in booze while working through their issues. Consisting of a lighter tone than one would suspect for this type of film, John Magary's The Mend is a unique and transfixing descent into deep-seeded emotional trauma, exploring how two brothers deal with their inner turmoil in very different ways. Embracing the characters in its story, The Mend's narrative is told in a very unpredictable, meandering way, making the film's true intentions hard to decipher at first, shielded beneath the witty disdain of Mat and Alan. This is the the type of film that spells very little out for the viewer, relying on the performances, razor sharp script, and character interactions to supply the viewer with an understanding of where both these brothers are coming from. Through nuance and subtlety, it eventually becomes clear that both these brothers are dealing with issues associated with their father, each struggling to cope with their depression and sadness that is at least somewhat associated with a broken relationship with their hard-nosed father, a man who seemingly had very little love to share with his two sons. Each brother possesses many of the same issues as their father, and how each of them routinely sees their father in themselves is just another aspect of what makes them so angry. While this study of anger and sadness could have easily been ham-fisted, The Mend brilliantly creates a world around its principle characters where dysfunction and chaos are always present. From a couple that argues above the brothers as they have lunch, to the subtle insecurities which exist among party guests in the beginning of the film, The Mend captures society in a strange but truthful way, displaying how we are all just individuals drifting through life, each with our own desires, wants, needs, and issues. While Mat is the most literal form of dysfunction and chaos, there are a lot of dysfunctional characters throughout The Mend, and the film's ability to capture how people deal with their issues differently is another strong aspect of the film. The Mend captures life in all its pain and glory, using these two brothers in a way that speaks to larger truths about society and humanity, beautifully capturing how all individuals are struggling in one-way or another, but it's how we choose to deal with it that is important. Featuring a sharp, funny script with some of the most quotable lines I've seen from a film in a long time, John Magary's The Mend is a one-of-a-kind piece of filmmaking that in a way is about the overall importance of empathy, as it explores the human condition in a truly unique way.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.