Directed and written by #FloraTennant
Short Film Review by Jack Bottomley
What is madness exactly? Some might say it is Joker-style anarchy, some might say it is filling your bedroom with Andrex in a time of crisis, and some might say it is something each of us encounter in our life’s pursuits...especially those of the heart. Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote, “There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness”. And this seems especially relevant in discussing writer/director #FloraTennant’s Scottish comedy short We All Just Want To Be Mad.
This visually arresting Kick-starter aided short, shot in the picturesque Lhanbryde in Scotland, is a rather engaging film about eccentricity, madness, freedom and how the three can get mistaken for each other. Starring #IsobelLaidler as Arabella, the film focuses on this young woman as she stays at the isolated family home, which is all very familiar. Attending social gatherings and watching the people partying, her inner thoughts and feelings keep rising to the surface and in her interactions with Fred (#JackCooperStimpson) and Eve (#AllyNiChiarain), she comes to find a release, an appeal and a freedom.
With its arthouse inclinations, its limited, poetic and sometimes ambiguous dialogue, and its lingering sequences of natural landscapes, high etiquette housing and decor, We All Just Want To Be Mad is sometimes a film that does feel to say very little for long periods of time. As you continue watching, you do find yourself engaged but distant to its meaning, and regularly wondering when the point will arrive, luckily it does and while it is essentially a far simpler point than the film’s construction might have you believe, it is still a meaningful one. This film, from its welcome female point of view, is an engaging look at how eccentricity is not equal to madness (through some purposely irregular imagery) and how pursuing your feelings and thoughts is sometimes called madness but is actually most liberating and fulfilling. Indeed madness could be nearer compared to living out the same routine on loop.
The characters are moving parts to this message and thus are not always memorable (though Ally Ni Chiarain leaves an impression) and while you don’t always quite grasp all of them entirely, Isobel Laidler’s lead is compelling. She keeps you watching, and it especially helps that the film has a fourth wall breaking quality to it, as it brings you into this regal world, which is all too procedural to its protagonist.
That being said, and even though Tennant should be applauded for taking a far more artistic approach to her comedy, and while her direction allows the breathtaking imagery to do its work, it’s perhaps cinematographer #XeniaPatricia who steals the show here, with some sublime work that absolutely does the trick and creates a wonderful backdrop to this short feature. Accompanying costume work by #FreddieAnderson also provides striking and involving dressing to this interesting film about high society, love and relief.
I enjoyed We All Just Want To Be Mad and while I did come away thinking I may have missed something (and indeed I may have), I still think it was a very sumptuously shot piece of craft that revelled in its “madness”. After all, Aristotle said “no great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness” and Tennant’s film uses those touches rather well to illuminate her very human point.