John Magary’s feature debut The Mend opens with a mindbending overture reminiscent of the découpage of Resnais’s Muriel before easing into something more compressed but still not lacking in ellipses, dislocations.
The slips, time-jumps, could be punctuated with titles like “TUESDAY”, “WEDNESDAY”, à la The Shining, but Magary forgoes indicators: a deadbeat thirtysomething Mat (Josh Lucas) impinges on his brother Alan (Stephen Plunkett) and Alan's almost-fiancée Farrah (Mickey Sumner) by crashing at their uptown apartment for — longer than expected (how long?). The tenants leave for vacation before Alan cuts his part of the trip short and comes home — sooner than anticipated (how soon?). At wits’ ends with their mutual drifts the lifelong opposites Alan and Mat go down, down together in a haze of alcohol and vapes and, intoxicated, as day turns to night and back, slide into new personas whereby the brothers kind of get along. Time mends all wounds? or (Lennon): Time wounds all heels?
The camera-zooms keep everything moving and assert (as a function of space) Time, make it tangible as THE metaphysical fact of the film-world or, if you will, the Container: Like Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel, the apartment’s the zone, in browns and neutrals, of eternal return. Like Swanberg’s The Zone, a world falls apart when an interloper arrives; like Jarvis and Dunn’s The Confabulators, like Defa’s Lydia Hoffman Lydia Hoffman and Person to Person, the crashing intruder cracks up host and spectator. Like I could’ve said at the top of my post about Kalman and Horn’s L for Leisure* — “History is a nightmare from which I’m trying to wake and bake."
Special jury prize for perfect Austin Pendleton, who plays Earl, the brothers’ father’s friend, professor-orgiast of Old SoHo with an appetite for painkillers and clementines who probably thinks he’s never not been the most interesting guy in any room.
*PS: And like L for Leisure, The Mend boasts an incredible score...