Written and Directed by: #AdamBernet
Emergency is a deep, intimate exploration of mental health and its frailty, set in British society.
One of the staples of British film is its blending of cinematic and theatrical techniques, a tradition that Emergency alludes to with good effect. In a clear nod to theatre, the most striking aspect of the film is its set, which is basically staged. The choice to locate the whole story in a single office, with minimalist style, is fitting and chimes with the subject matter.
From here the film is built, making great use of symbolism to illustrate the loneliness and isolation that seem inherent to a mental health crisis. The window is almost another starring character (who of us has not appreciated a window in these times of pandemic?), giving both character and audience the view to crucial things. The fact that this is an office window should not be lost on us: the questions of whether work is our genuine context, and how much it operates on a person’s mental health, are main threads of the piece.
The film’s exploration of time, that is the construct of it, is symbolically portrayed in a sharp way. As his emergency unfolds, the character can see no arms in the clock or in his watch. Time seems to lose its meaning, or at least its significance. In an emergency, time is a factor which is in practice of the essence but which emotionally and psychologically disappears. Yet the character’s future and what he sees of it from the window are key.
The film’s narrative and script feel at once unpredictable and stranded, much like a mental health crisis usually does, so the writing is effective, but there is little dynamism. With these elements, Adam Loxely, who plays the main character, carries the story well. His performance is heartbreakingly expressive and vulnerability is skilfully portrayed.
Emergency is an opportune piece, created at a time of generalised emergency across global society, by which mental health has been deeply affected. The film’s portrayal of the struggle to see whether one is in emergency is reflective of a piece of human experience more common than many, including those in positions of power, care to admit.