Directed by: Tim Barrow
Written by: Tim Barrow
Starring: Tim Barrow, Elspeth Turner, David Tudor
Schizophrenia is often a subject matter that is seen in a negative light in cinema, being the defining thing that makes villains “off”. Riptide is an independent Scottish film that tries to take a more realistic and empathetic attitude to the disorder, coming from sophomore director Tim Barrow. Despite not having any expectations for this film, I was presently surprised, as Riptide is a decent and engaging movie.
The Schizophrenic Jacob (Tim Barrow) gets released from a mental institution and lives in his flat in Edinburgh, with a job but without any close friends or relatives to keep him occupied. One day whilst driving near a beach in the Highlands in a bid to do something with himself, he sees a woman walking into the ocean. He goes to save this woman, named Eva (Elspeth Turner) and the two start to have a relationship that becomes hard to maintain due to Eva’s absences and strange behaviour.
Riptide’s strongest attribute is its direction, which manages to be atmospheric and weird in a way that draws you in. It simulates the mind of someone with schizophrenia in a manner that may or may not be accurate but is gripping none the less. This style utilises intentionally choppy editing techniques, tight close ups and sound editing that is also choppy yet fits the mood and tone of each scene. Despite the general look being very cheap and unpolished, director Tim Barrow overpowers it and makes you forget about it.
The story also has a decent structure that manages to be varied and unpredictable, so the direction is not making up for an uninteresting script. There is also no copping out regarding the depiction of Schizophrenia, the intention of Jacob being a sympathetic unthreatening character stays the same all throughout and the writing succeeds in making him one.
If there is a problem script-wise, it is that the otherwise heartwarming ending goes on too long. There are about three instances where I thought the film had cut to credits, but it kept going. Also, the narrative tries to raise ambiguity sometimes in regard to whether Jacob is imagining his experiences with Eva, but the payoff is weak enough to make one wonder why this plot element was brought up in the first place.
There is a good amount of heart when it comes to the main relationship and that comes from the chemistry between Turner and Barrow. Both are believable as two lonely individuals who like each other and whilst Barrow’s lead performance does not show a lot of range, he still convinces. The other actors do a good job as well.
Riptide is a surprisingly decent indie film that succeeds in its intentions and has a lot of heart and emotion. It is available on Vimeo for free, so watch it and see if you get something out of it.