Mind-Set (2023) – Film Review
Director: Mikey Murray
Cast: Steve Oram, Ellis Cahill, Peter Bankole
By Roger Crow
Some movies really get under your skin, sometimes because it feels like the film makers are holding up a mirror to your own life.
Thanks to the pandemic and lockdown, I, like many others, found myself working at home, for months. And as nice as that is for a while, it can also be hugely isolating.
Mind-Set centres on a couple who are happy enough. She’s a bored office worker. He’s a tennis-obsessed screenwriter who spends his days slobbing around the house, having a little banter with the postman, and occasionally writing something.
At first sight he’s an absolute grotesque who can’t even be bothered to go up the shop and get basic provisions, leaving it to his partner. But, inevitably, it turns out he’s agoraphobic.
He becomes concerned that his partner is having a fling with a fellow office worker, and following a game of squash, the wage slaves inevitably wind up in bed together attempting to have sex. But though a fling may seem sexy and cool, it just turns out to be awkward and embarrassing.
Inevitably there’s the dinner party from hell, because low-budget comedies almost demand them, and inevitably there’s the old flame who behaves inappropriately, and a moment when our heroine says what she thinks and the party guests go home early.
Shot mostly in black and white with some colour interludes, Mind-Set is a little gem of an offering with Steve Oram as strangely watchable as ever. If you’ve never seen his classic Sightseers, a Nuts in May-style black comedy, then track it down. That Mike Leigh-alike comedy was a great two-hander with the sublime Alice Lowe, and this covers similar Leigh-style moments. The shots that go on slightly too long; the gonzo feel to the filmmaking, and the couple of everyday folks just living their lives, a little like Leigh’s brilliant High Hopes.
“Touch a chord”
Yes, there are times you want to grab Oram’s character and yell at him, and tell him to show his partner more respect. But when a character is that affecting, it’s because they clearly touch a chord.
Added bonuses are appearances by the ever-reliable Julia Deakin (Spaced) and Jason Isaacs, who should really be in every movie, even if he’s just in the background.
Mind-Set writer-director Mikey Murray may be inspired by Leigh, or may just be doing his own thing with impressive results. Either way, this is well worth a look, even if for some it may feel a little too close to home.