(director/writer: Katharine O’Brien; cinematographer: Arnau Valls Colomer; editor: Yannis Chalkiadakis; music: Hugo Nicolson; cast: Simon Pegg (Theo Ross), Juno Temple (Hannah), Alexandra Daddario (Dana Lee), Tao Okamoto (Wendi), Jamie Harris (Angus), Danny Ramirez (Jake), Rebecca Hazlewood (Rachel); Runtime: 105; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Al Di, Olga Kagan, Filip Jan Rymsza, Tory Lenosky; Gravitas Ventures; 2019)

“Tries to give us an honest or at least a realistic view on mental health issues by focusing on the relationship of a pair of musicians with mental health problems.”¬†

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Lost Transmissions  premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Katharine O’Brien in her debut full-length feature as a writer and director tries to give us an honest or at least a realistic view on mental health issues by focusing on the relationship of a pair of musicians with mental health problems. It’s
inspired by a true story.

Hannah (Juno Temple) is a shy and depressive Los Angeles aspiring song writer/singer who has been on anti-depressants since she was 22. She meets at a party the older bossy expat-Brit record producer Theo Ross (Simon Pegg) at his home’s makeshift recording studio and begins a flirty friendship and a musical collaboration with him.

At times Theo shuns contact because he has fits of paranoid schizophrenic delusions that overwhelm him. These attacks he believes started happening after he was on tour with his former rock band of the ’90s and he dropped what may have been bad acid. He wrongly believes he doesn’t want to live his life through what he calls “filters” and thereby prefers at times not taking his meds in order to get the full experience of seeing things as they are. In other words, he believes treatment will curb his creativity.

Through Theo’s contacts Hannah gets her big break when asked to write songs for the vain and untalented pop princess, Dana Lee (Alexandra Daddario).

When Theo is spiraling downward and his close friends have given up trying to help him anymore, Hannah feels obligated to try and help her friend. She even goes off her meds to induce creativity and relate more to her mentor.

The narrative shows how hard it’s to help those suffering from mental health issues and the inadequacies of mental health care in America. Their fun friendship reveals how disconnected are the mentally ill and how irksome they can be if not receiving proper treatment.

Pegg, the central focus of the tale, is the manipulative character who bares his soul in a commanding performance. While Juno Temple’s fine performance is because she hits the right chords playing her character as someone on the edge only because of her vulnerability and desperation (and she can also sing).

The title is derived from a raving Theo who claims to hear secret transmissions in the radio static. The indie works best as an intimate relationship film about the travails in helping a friend in need. The message delivered is that those most in despair need the most help but too often don’t want it or get it from our failing mental health system.

Lost Transmissions seems to be sending out many easy to handle signals to let us know that the mentally ill need to get professional help even if they think they don’t need it.