Directed by Jorge Dorado
Written by Guy Holmes, Martha Holmes
Starring Taissa Farmiga, Mark Strong, Indira Varma, Brian Cox
If you go poking about in someone’s gray matter, you might not like what you find. There is a good reason we can’t read each others minds, and if you want proof of this rather peculiar pudding, you just need to watch Jorge Dorado’s Mindscape. Written by Guy and Martha Holmes, Mindscape introduces us to the memory catchers, a select group of people that are able to enter the memories of others and remember it for them wholesale (as it were, Philip K Dick fans). The film revolves around one of these talented and unusual people in the form of Mark Strong, as his character John returns from extended leave after the death, by suicide, of his wife. Hard up for cash, with a liking for the bottle, John’s money is quickly running low and he needs a job to carry on living to the standard that he has become accustomed to (which is pretty nice, it must be said, they must pay very well).
His ‘agent’ is played by the always impressive Brian Cox, who offers to give John a shot at a case that he himself has been involved with for some time. One of his previous clients has begun to refuse food. So John is dispatched to go and find out why, and if possible, metaphorically force-feed her a cheeseburger with the power of his mighty subconscious will.
This old client actually turns out to be the very youthful Anna (Taissa Farmiga) who has been treated since she was very young indeed. Daughter to a multi-millionaire heiress and her husband, the stepfather, Anna has had some unfortunate mental problems for as long as anyone can remember, but no-one is really sure why. The latest of these issues is her refusal to eat. So it is down to John to have a good rummage in her unconscious mind to try and get to the root of the problem.
Immediately you may be put in mind of The Cell, that starred Jennifer Lopez in 2000, who was able to get into the subconscious minds of serial killers to try and find out where they kept their victims and this is not too far removed. The scenes set in the netherworld of a dreamlike unconsciousness are not horrifying nightmares laced with elaborate, artistic and painful suffering in this project, however. These scenes are just as you would expect; memories of previous portions of the subject’s life so far. As an onlooker, John is able to see what the subject saw, assuming of course that they remembered events as they truly were, and not how they wanted them to be.
And herein lies the problem with the whole project. This amazing feat of mental jiggery-pokery only really works if the subject remembers things as they were. If not, then there really isn’t much you can do if you’re looking for evidence. Therefore, as a smarter than average audience member, you will need to check your incredulity at the door before you enter, otherwise you’re just not going to have any fun. But if you do, then there is a decent story with a couple of nice twists along the way and a final act that you can see clearly from quite some way off.
The acting is excellent and Mark Strong is as magnetic as he has ever been. Farmiga is a little more difficult to praise as she does occasionally come across as a little wooden, which frankly is unlike her, but this doesn’t make it any less true. Some nice direction and cinematography make this an easy watch, despite a sometimes cheesy, sashaying script and you will quickly find that the time has passed almost without spotting it as the credits roll. It doesn’t outstay its welcome either, knowing just when to quit and make a hasty dash for the exit. Overall, this is good. Definitely worth your time. Go see it, if you can.