Mental instability always seems to spread chaos amongst people and who they associate with. Life never seeks to work out properly when our minds collapse on us and we have to distract ourselves to find a purpose. Lost Transmissions secures this aspect with its two lead performers, and their flawed personalities.
Katharine O’Brien, director and writer, ensures this film never shies away from understanding the philosophies of mental health care and maintains a mature tone throughout. The film begins with a rather timid songwriter, Hannah (Juno Temple), interacting with a record producer, Theo (Simon Pegg), at a small gathering by singing and interacting with the sound of a piano. They continue to work with one another and it eventually comes to Hannah’s realization that Theo is a schizophrenic, who abhors the idea of taking any medication because he does not believe life should have “a filter over it”. Hannah gets into a bigger position with her music career to write songs for a pop artist Dana Lee (Alexandra Daddario), but she is constantly diverted due to Theo’s condition and his erratic actions. Hannah attempts to take matters in her own hands with no other friends or family willing to aid him while she deals with her problems of utilizing anti-depressants.
For some reason, this film immediately reminded this writer of Todd Philip’s Joker, as that film (and more) saturate in a theme that America has significant blunders in the mental health care field. That may be the case altogether as medication can only do so much for an individual before they develop tolerance and realize they are not progressing any further. Pegg and Temple’s characters follow through with this aspect, revealing how troubling society is to them.
Pegg’s work here turns out to be done very well as he maintains a high level of charisma yet plays his character with such sophistication. He allows the film to break out a bit with such tenacity in his words and physical interactions with others. How he basically transforms a musical piece of work to something remarkable and then plainly saying “it’s complete sh**” demonstrates a latitude to his emotions. Pegg usually plays in big films such as Mission: Impossible or Star Trek, but he doesn’t go into an intriguing level of depth compared to his performance in this feature.
Temple’s work here shouldn’t be overlooked as the film is explained from her perspective, and she shows compassion and willingness to assist a distorted individual. Her character is also vulnerable and desperate at times to ensure the audience resonates accordingly. The music, though, is what glues this film together such as when Daddario’s character showcases to be an amusing distraction with her spoiled tactics or how Theo gets Hannah to break out a bit when she’s in the vocal booth singing.
This film does have a lot of potential going for it, but it does get hampered a bit with some story complications. While the chemistry between Theo and Hannah feels interesting, it feels somewhat illogical as there is nothing to signify why she would help him other than respecting her own condition. Yes, we can relate to one another because of our own problems, but that doesn’t mean we have to unless there is some driving factor behind it.
The film does wallow a bit in the third act with Hannah digging into Theo’s delusions regarding the radio transmissions or a woman called “The Princess of Time” has to convince Theo to go back to his home. Trying to resolve the stories for both characters at the end felt very unsatisfying and leaves one to wonder if that was on purpose. Then again, not every film has to end on a happy note as life is not always a pleasant concept to think about.
Lost Transmissions is an audacious film that brings a lot to the table for Theo and Hannah. It understands how progressing onward with a mental illness can fracture individuals and their lifestyles. Pegg and Temple both shine in this film and give us a much more intricate understanding of this matter. Maybe those of us in society who are indifferent regarding this should become more aware of what happens for these individuals.