Starring: Aidan Gillen, Zoe Tay, Claire Keelan
After the death of his brother, Gerry Devine (Gillen) leaves behind his troubled life and marriage in London to travel to Singapore for his brother’s funeral. There he grows closer to his brother’s widow (Zoe Tay) and gets increasingly drawn into his brother’s life and the unique and intriguing appeals of this vastly different culture. However Gerry learns that what haunts and troubles him are impossible to leave behind.
No matter how far we run from our troubles, we apparently take them with us. Well, that is certainly the case for our protagonist in what is a deeply atmospheric and engaging drama. Writer/Directors Joe Lawlor and Christine Molloy decide to keep the pace slow, which may not appeal to all, but those willing to be patient with this gentle character study will be rewarded by an intoxicating experience that will haunt for days after with its subconscious thoughts and ideas that come to light in the film’s final third.
Of course, as a protagonist piece for Mister John to work it was always going to require a great central performance and as Jerry, Aiden Gillen is superb. Gillen delivers a charismatic performance and proves to be a commanding screen presence as he demonstrates with perfect subtlety the suffocating inner turmoil of a deeply troubled man that cannot find explanations or solutions for all his troubling thoughts.
As Gerry slips with almost impossible ease into his brother’s life (and clothes) it all at first seems too easy and Lawlor and Molloy’s superb direction and perfectly judged pace mean we the viewer are sucked in by this intoxicating and strange culture with Gerry. It is in the final third where some superbly written scenes that confuse and parallel Gerry’s old and new life provide the raw emotional power that rewards the viewer’s patience for watching the slow burning pace of the first two thirds. It is also not all doom and gloom, as there is plenty of subtle dark humour and larger than life characters along the way of Gerry’s journey.
Nothing is ever explained too much, but neither obscure for the sake of it making for an emotionally rewarding film proving Joe Lawlor and Christine Molloy to be filmmakers to watch.
Rich in atmosphere and subtle yet powerful emotion, with a superb central performance from Aiden Gillen Mister John is a deeply rewarding and haunting watch.