The Mend: Review - SXSW

Dark Comedy Explores Fractured Relationships and Layered Characters

The relationship between siblings is often portrayed as a semi tug of war between a clash of personalities and years of bottled emotion.  In writer/ director John Magery’s The Mend, brothers Mat (Josh Lucas) and Alan (Stephen Plunkett) are a dysfunctional duo that can’t seem to mend their broken relationship.  The film takes an erratic journey through Mat’s romantic relationships, irresponsibility, and penchant for bringing drama right to his more responsible brother’s doorstep. 

After a fiery breakup with his girlfriend, Mat wonders to Alan’s home- much to Alan’s girlfriend Farrah’s (Mickey Sumner) disappointment.  As the couple leave for a romantic trip, Matt stays and brings a few good willed squatters with him.    

While the heart of the story is in the crazy and hilarious relationship between the brothers, I found the women to be quite entertaining and multi-dimensional.  Farrah seems to be the matriarchal figure to the brothers.  She commands Mat’s respect and is stern on what she will and won’t do in her relationship (see their hilarious first scene).  She can handle Mat better than the more accommodating Alan.  Farrah moves with a wit and certainty that is refreshing in this adrenaline led comedy. 

Additionally, Andrea (Lucy Owen) plays Mat’s on and off again girlfriend.  She does a wonderful job balancing a character who is both a single mom and a willing participant in a tumultuous relationship.  Even Andrea’s relationship with Alan is layered with a clear understanding that she is stuck with the less responsible, less humane brother.  Andrea is the mom with good intentions who inherently makes poor decisions. 

Magery has created a film filled with rich characters that have their own stories to tell.

The Mend is a unique find during a festival filled with heavy hitters and strong indie contenders.  The writing and acting is authentic and the comedy certainly delivers.  The film could benefit from a more streamlined edit, but just enough to cut it’s exhausting near two hour run. 

Josh Lucas leads a well rounded film that is not afraid to let its’ female characters shine.