THE SOUND OF THE WIND (dir. Jared Douglas): Film review

For readers familiar with the classic Anthony Perkins movie, Fear Strikes Out or the Michael Keaton asylum rom-com The Dream Team, it is easy to see how cinema has portrayed mental illness either over-sympathetic or used for comedic effect. It is these stereotypes that writer and director Jared Douglas seeks to change with his intense film The Sound of the Wind.

Douglas provides a gritty, realistic perspective on mental illness by displaying a character with Delusion Disorder in full crisis. We jump right into the life of Lucio (Christian Gnecco Quintero), as he is buying diapers for his two year old daughter when a series of events trigger the crisis that sets the tone for the rest of the movie. Fearing for his own and his family’s lives, he foregoes his chore and goes on the run. Utilizing close-up shots and claustrophobic cinematography from Neeraj Jain, we perceive Lucio to be followed by a nefarious agency.   The rest of the movie takes us on an intimate fight-or-flight journey with Lucio where neither he nor the audience knows what is real.

Quintero is exceptional.  Aside from phone conversations with Stefanie Rons (Vanessa) which ground Lucio, and give the audience context for his story, Quintero carries the movie as virtually the sole performer onscreen. Quintero has an impressive theater background and he commands the screen as if it were a one man play.  It is intense, heartfelt and inspired work. Rons’s performance shows the pain of those who support people struggling through mental illness.  Equally difficult as Quintero’s performance onscreen is Rons’s ability to be the emotional center, despite only being seen for a few moments .

Douglas and Jain initially do an artful job increasing confusion about Lucio’s delusions.  Using a “stalker camera”, we believe someone is following Lucio, enhancing his paranoia and the audience’s uncertainty. These well-crafted sequences utilizing intentionally shaky camera work and close-up shots in the narrow space of Lucio’s car are reminiscent of the early Coen Brothers movie Blood Simple. It establishes all the essentials for a classic psychological thriller, but unfortunately, the intense momentum is slowed during the final third of the film by predictable dialogue and over explaining confessionals.

Douglas makes the decision to only show Lucio in crisis, which successfully lets the audience determine the reality along with the main character.  However without a stronger backstory to identify with the character, it is difficult to see Lucio except in crisis. As a passion project for Douglas, he creates a realistic portrayal of the scariest and tragic moments for the individual and their loved ones.  To shed the stigmas of how mental illness is portrayed in film, it might have been more effective to show Lucio cope with his mental illness in his daily routine.  It would help the audience understand his difficulties and connect with him more closely as he struggles through his lowest moments.

Scheduled for general online release May 1, 2020.

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