Sunday, May 12, 2019

Tribeca with Abe: Lost Transmissions

I’ve had the pleasure this year of screening a number of selections from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which ran April 24th – May 5th.

Lost Transmissions
Directed by Katharine O’Brien
Spotlight Narrative

Every person experiences the world in a slightly different way, and that can greatly affect how they’re able to cope with events in their lives. People of all sorts can relate to music and may be able to digest it on a specific frequency that speaks to them even if the rest of what they hear is all noise. The path from inspiration to success as a musician is rarely straight or smooth, and along the way, the bumps are made all the more interesting by how they respond to them.

Theo (Simon Pegg), an eccentric music producer, is entranced by Hannah (Juno Temple) at a party and immediately brings her into a recording studio to give her a platform to sing. As they become closer, Theo begins acting irrationally, and all of his friends explain to Hannah that he is a schizophrenic who periodically stops taking his medication. As she pens songs for an airheaded pop star (Alexandra Daddario), she remains fiercely committed to keeping Theo under care despite his frequent and often violent resistance to anyone trying to tell him that he’s crazy and needs help.

This film’s title refers to the first sign of Theo’s questionable mental stability, when he pauses between radio stations while adjusting the dial in the car and declares that he is starting to hear the messages meant only for those who are ready to hear them. There is a magnetism to both of these characters, first in Theo as an energetic socialite who has no problem chatting anyone up, and then in Hannah, who has a natural talent but doesn’t possess the drive to succeed that might enable her to climb her way to the top. When they are together, something crackles, though it’s not always a pleasant sensation for either of them or those around them.

This is a revelatory role for Pegg, better known for comedies like “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People” and the “Shaun of the Dead” and “Star Trek” series. He delivers a layered turn with humor and enthusiasm on the surface and so much more underneath. Temple, who has been great in films like “One Percent More Humid” and “Dirty Girl,” is excellent as usual, making Hannah an endearing protagonist who feels real and complicated. These two people are immensely watchable, interacting in a wild universe that might not be calibrated just right for either of them.


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