Lost Transmissions shows the line between proving yourself as a storyteller doesn’t always coincide with delivering the intended message.
|Screenplay By||Katharine O’Brien|
|Good If You Like||Vicariously Living/ Understanding What It Is Like To Try To Help Someone Who Is Mentally Ill & Refuses Help|
|Isn’t For You If You||Desire to Feel Something Vs. Simply Recognize The Actors Putting In An Effort|
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Lost Transmissions Plot Summary
Out in LA, Hannah is just making it with a dead end job until Theo comes into her life. They formally meet at a party, and formerly weren’t that close until they sang together and he decided to invest time into her. This leads to her coming to his house, making tracks, and her getting a job in the industry. However, as she begins her rise, Theo begins to take a fall as he decides to stop taking his medication for schizophrenia.
Thus leading to the heart of the hour and a half story of Hannah trying to take care of Theo. Then, when he becomes too much for her, working with his friends to try to get him committed. A task which is easier said than done.
Other Noteworthy Facts & Moments
- Hannah is a combination of writer/ director Katharine O’Brien’s experience and people who shared a similar one when trying to help someone with schizophrenia.
- We learn about the L.E.A.P method used to handle charming schizophrenic patients so that they can’t present a ruse they are well when an attempt to diagnose them are done.
Question(s) Left Unanswered
- Is it wrong to think Hanna was nowhere near close enough to Theo to really be held responsible for him on a full-time basis?
It Was Good, At First
Films focusing on the mentally ill often are tragic. Especially when the focus is on those who need medication to function. So the idea of a singer/ songwriter on anti-depressants paired with someone who has schizophrenia and is anti-pills sounds like an interesting combo. I would even say, before the movie strayed away from the music and pushed Theo’s disorder to the forefront, it felt like it had something interesting. For with drugs and feeling something so integrated into the experience of creating music, Theo noting how he was against it for it made him feel numb was an interesting take. Particularly since he made compelling music before he became a bit manic and paranoid. We even see Hannah stop taking her meds as she begins to hit a wall.
Unfortunately, though, Hanna’s journey without meds is kicked to the wayside since this movie is about Theo and Hannah is just our medium.
On The Fence
It’s Eventually, Maybe Within An Hour, Going To Make You Check The Time
Which becomes a bit of an issue since we eventually end up in a loop. One which helps you understand the frustration of dealing with America’s healthcare system, specifically for those with mental disorders. But while the commentary is valuable, the delivery is honestly meh.
Why? Well, taking note Simon Pegg was the first sign on, and what indie creator doesn’t likely try to appeal to big names, you get the vibe in his pursuit of diversifying his portfolio, a lot of things went awry. First and foremost, while this is based on a collection of true stories, including O’Brien’s, you are left to wonder if this could have been shorter. The reason I say that is, as you loop through Theo going in and out of treatment, it becomes monotonous. Add in that Pegg’s charm wears off quick, and him being mentally ill takes away from what could be seen as funny moments, it makes the film feel like it is dragging on. Particularly once it becomes clear Hannah is more than willing to toss her career, and health seemingly, to the wayside and that makes it so Temple has no ability to present herself as a relief from Theo.
This Seems More About Pegg Than The Characters
The second issue here is that, similar to Will Smith in Concussion, I’d argue, this film isn’t so much about the person the actor is playing but the actor himself. What I mean by that is, on the one hand you recognize Pegg and later Temple, are likely the reason this got funded and some sense of notoriety. Yet, as much as Pegg brings his charm and talents, they aren’t on the level required to sit for 105 minutes, likely paying a premium, to see at an indie theater. I’d even say, at $10 on its own, it may require being a real fan of someone involved to justify the ticket price.
Why? Well, there isn’t anything here to really hook onto for the time length. Again, Pegg is an excellent performer, but it seems he is somewhere between learning on the job and committing so deeply that Theo doesn’t matter as much as you, the viewer, seeing Pegg as a capable dramatic actor. Which grows tiresome since Theo’s descent into madness doesn’t necessarily pull on your heart strings and O’Brien, alongside her editor, seems to make sure Theo isn’t meant to be seen as a joke either. Leaving you watching someone mentally unwell and being left unsure how to feel about him.
Then, with Temple, while she has this subplot of being mentally ill herself, in the form of depression, that isn’t played upon since Theo consumes her. Making perhaps one of the highlights of the film, her music, drowned out and things like her temporarily, or totally, stopping her pill regimen an afterthought. Not to forget, there is also the discomfort of one of the few non-white characters in the movie, who get to talk, Wendi, being used as bait to trick Theo into getting help. Which seems really messed up since she has a restraining order against Theo and yet she is hunting down and coerced to get involved.
The Outside Approach
Despite noting Temple feels like our medium, there comes a point where you barely feel she is our way into understanding what is going on. For as we see her slip away a bit, slightly deal with her own issues, it leaves you feeling like someone is vaguely telling you someone else’s story. One which deals with the highlights, the stuff which will keep your attention, but not the information which could stir something in you. Thus leaving you feeling that, especially upon seeing the Skid Row scenes, that this movie isn’t so much about being some form of advocacy but more so telling a story that, in conversation, was interesting to recount but didn’t necessarily translate that well into a partly fictionalized film.
Lost Transmissions Overall Rating: Mixed (Divisive)
I don’t want to say this is a bad film but more so one which took on a subject matter and handed the reins to the wrong person. Now, take it as you will who is the wrong person. One could say it was Pegg since this often felt more about his performance than the story. Another take could be that maybe O’Brien was too close to this so that affected the project?
There are a lot of different angles in play here, but for me, I’m going with this: The music of the film, and seeing Hannah and Theo’s bond was the hook. So with straying from how their bond began, we’re left with a girl chasing after a man who validated her for a short period of time, and it makes her chasing him over LA, dealing with his highs and lows, a bit much. Add in you feeling like the movie shows just Hannah’s frustration and not getting to show Theo’s own, and it leads to a film that seemingly doesn’t do justice to its characters, their stories, and those who they are trying to represent.
Hence the mixed label. I wouldn’t say this is worth purchasing a ticket for or seeing on its own, unless someone in this film you want to support. More so, this is a free with an Amazon Prime account, or a film to watch on Netflix since it comes with your subscription. For on its own, as much as you have to respect the work, it quickly discards the hook and leaves you without much to cling to besides trying to finish what you started.