By David Dent
Andy Nyman’s riveting tragi-comic performance is arguably the best thing about Christian Solimeno’s increasingly abstract and sad psycho thriller.
Nyman is Martin Pyrite (superb name) who has a seemingly idyllic life with his gorgeous wife Julie (Neve Campbell with a passable British accent). We see him getting ready for a day in the office, matching socks with his favourite watch, and kissing his wife goodbye. She’s concerned that he hasn’t been himself recently, and there are also warning signs that something’s afoot; a hastily hidden letter from the mortgage company about arrears, and Julie being warned off accessing the joint account.
We’re about to watch Martin’s life unravel. Actually it already unravelled but he hasn’t told his wife about the extent of it, and we’re just catching up. He was fired from his job a while ago on, according to Martin, trumped up charges. He arrives at the office (not sure why his security clearance hasn’t been cancelled) and demands to know from HR why the reference they provided is so awful. He has no money; all his accounts have been suspended, and his cards are declined. To make matters worse, a passing thug steals his beloved watch. He spends his last £4 on an ice cream and eats it like a prisoner’s last meal.
A call from Jane summons him home; the HR lady has left an apologetic voice message and because of her careful wording Julie thinks she’s caught him having an affair; it’s about the only thing he hasn’t done. Julie retires to bed and sleeping pills (there’s a sad scene where Martin confesses everything to his drugged, sleeping wife). But a knock at the door announces the presence of the man mountain Pecco (James Cosmo in fine form) who has arrived to collect a debt that’s been sold on to him by Martin’s druggy friend Tom, from whom Martin borrowed money. Pecco’s here to collect the debt or act as bailiff for the equivalent amount in belongings. But Pecco has an alternative; if Martin will help him with a one off job, Pecco will forego the debt.
The subsequent mission across London and back again results in Martin losing whatever grasp on reality he had; it’s like his continuous masking of his true situation to friends and family has unhinged him. The exact purpose of Pecco’s favour is never made clear, but Cosmo’s character changes from aggressor to confessor. Is he warming to Martin’s predicament?
Nothing is very clear in the second part of the movie. Martin goes to visit his friend, the successful actor Toby Huxley (played by the director), ostensibly to borrow money, but Huxley tells of his experience of a stalker which means that he needs to move home. Is Pecco his stalker?
Ultimately the different plot threads fail to reach enough resolution, which is, I am sure, on purpose. This is, after all, a study of (male) mental illness, not likely to produce clear outcomes. Martin does receive redemption at the end of the film, but by then things are so muddy it’s almost difficult to care.
‘The Glass Man’ has been sitting on the shelves since its first showing at 2011’s FrightFest and it’s perhaps not difficult to see why. Its ‘unreliable narrator’ shtick reminded me of Gareth Tunley’s 2016 movie ‘The Ghoul,’ and it’s similarly unmarketable. The first half an hour remains a tour de force of dark humour and pathos though, and Nyman’s character, initially at least, invites compassion and revulsion in equal measures. You should see it for that alone.
The Glass Man is available now.