The Mend – A dark comedy about the dark side of brotherhood
Directed by: John Magary
John Magary did something very risky with his debut film “The Mend”. A couple of things actually. He made the film’s central figure Mat (Lucas) a disagreeable, grimy, self-involved vagrant with anger and alcohol issues. He also blended elements of comedy, tragedy, sibling rivalry, and family issues which is a formula normally reserved for the likes of Pedro Almodovar, Wes Anderson, or Anderson’s buddy Noah Baumbach. Impressively, Magary gets away with both risks, and “The Mend” ends up being not only dark and somewhat dirty feeling but also very entertaining.
The film begins with Mat (Lucas) wandering into a party, at the home of his estranged brother Alan (Plunkett) and Alan’s girlfriend Farrah (Sumner). The party goes until dawn, and the next morning Alan and Farrah leave on vacation leaving Mat alone in their home. Right away, Mat decides to use this opportunity to play house with his girlfriend Andrea (Owen) and her son Ronnie (Nichols) by having them stay at the house with him.
When Alan returns early from vacation looking traumatized, and without Farrah, and finds Mat and company living in his home he hardly reacts (or hardly has the emotional energy to). The four of them end up sharing the cramped space through a long power outage, and all of their issues come boiling to the surface. The messier the house gets and the more Mat and Alan let their anger at life take over the more brutally hopeless the story feels. Through all of the depressing, dingy words and emotions on screen the movie is for the most part very funny and very watchable (even if it is an uncomfortable watch).
Really the best thing about “The Mend” to me was that it’s maker took so many chances. This movie could have been so easy to hate in the hands of most writer/directors, but I couldn’t hate it. It wasn’t perfect either, but it was entertaining and intriguing.