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Friday, July 21, 2017

PSYCHOANALYSIS -- DVD Review by Porfle

First-time director James Raue tries his hand at the mockumentary thing with the mostly interesting PSYCHOANALYSIS (2015, Candy Factory), which takes on the form of a TV documentary being filmed with a famous psychologist as its subject.

What gives the premise its zing is the fact that this celebrated rock-star headshrinker, the cocksure Paul Symmonds (Benedict Wall), has just lost five patients to suicide in a week's time.  This calls into question not only his unorthodox methods but his very competence as well.

Adding insult to injury, Paul must submit to having both of these assessed by none other than his main rival, Dr. Andrew Fendell (Ryan O'Kane), whom he suspects of being behind the deaths in an effort to eliminate the competition. 

The question of whether the suicides were a result of Paul being too intimate with his clients--which Fendell points out as the most fatal flaw in his methods--or something more sinister is at work against Paul is the scintillating mystery that lures us into the story.

What makes it increasingly interesting is watching Paul grow more and more obsessed with uncovering what he sees as a conspiracy against him and the lengths he eventually goes to in order to prove it. This includes enlisting the willing aid of a former client, Ryan (Michael Whalley), whose mental state is questionable at best.

As the various conflicts drag on, Paul's marriage to wife Ally (Jennie Lee) begins to suffer and his desperation drives him to take greater risks which put his reputation on the line.  The mystery of the five suicides remains compelling throughout the film and keeps us watching.

The film does have its negative points, however.  The acting ranges from quite good to somewhat overly arch in some scenes. There's an ill-advised attempt toward some kind of dark comedy, particularly with the "Ryan" character, which I found jarring.  Things also tend to drag here and there overall.

Still, PSYCHOANALYSIS overcomes the occasional awkwardness of its documentary framework and ultimately comes off as a satisfying experience.  I especially like the unexpected way in which the mystery is finally resolved, not with a burst of sensationalism but with a sort of bitter, understated irony.

Type: DVD/Digital HD (iTunes, Amazon, Google Play)
Rating: N/A
Running time: 79 min.
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Audio: Stereo
Street date: July 25, 2017


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