LOST TRANSMISSIONS (2019)
Starring Simon Pegg, Juno Temple, Jamie Harris, Alexandra Daddario, Rebecca Hazlewood, Tao Okamoto, Bria Vinaite, Robert Schwartzman, Daisy Bishop, Danny Ramirez, Grant Harvey, Jacob Loeb, Nana Ghana, Mickey Schiff, Andres Faucher, Cherise Boothe, Reef Karim, Anthony Rossomando, Corey Mendell Parker, Jonathan Oyhe, Nic D’Avirro and Marius De Vries.
Screenplay by Katharine O’Brien.
Directed by Katharine O’Brien.
Distributed by Gravitas Ventures. 105 minutes. Not Rated.
So, what do you say when you find a terrific, totally unexpected performance in a movie that is just okay? Do you suggest people check it out simply on the strength of the terrific acting job? Or do you soft pedal it because the film itself doesn’t quite live up to the performance?
I’m not sure, but that is the predicament with Lost Transmissions.
British comic actor Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Paul, the Star Trek and Mission: Impossible movies) tends to perform as comic release in movies. However, there is very little funny about his role here as Theo, an aging music producer who is schizophrenic and off his meds. It’s a terrific dramatic reading of a very messed up man, and Pegg surprises in the layers he finds in the tragic man.
The problem is Theo is spinning out. He’s unpredictable, often lashing out, acting out and running off. He is destroying what little he has left of his career, alienating his few close friends, getting into trouble with the law, losing his home.
Schizophrenics are difficult to deal with, and when people do it is generally because they feel a strong connection to the person they knew before the condition took over.
And this, sadly, is where Lost Transmissions sputters. The audience never feels that connection with Theo. Despite the fine performance, his acting out is hard to watch, and people who are not invested in him already may prefer to just tune him out or turn away.
Also, Theo is not the main character here. That is Hannah (Juno Temple), an aspiring singer/songwriter who had pretty much given up her dreams of making it before Theo championed her and made a demo of some of her old songs.
Hannah is also mentally disturbed, a severe depressive who is also on meds for her condition. She has a constant numbed look of dismay as she negotiates through life’s hardships. She somehow becomes Theo’s protector even though it did not appear that they were that friendly before all this happened.
She even potentially blows the opportunity of a lifetime which came from Theo’s demos, the opportunity to write for an alt-pop star (Alexandra Daddario, trying gamely to give the one-dimensional character some life), simply to save Theo from one of his many demons.
However, as the audience watches Theo self-destruct, they can’t help but think that the guy needs some serious medical care. This young woman, who is having a hard-enough time simply caring for herself, is just not going to be able to save him.
Hannah and Theo’s story is a tragic one, a somewhat illuminating one and certainly a realistic one. However, it is not the kind of thing most people will want to experience unless they absolutely have to.
As an audience, not everyone is going to want to sign up for that ride.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2020 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: March 13, 2020.