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Car Sick

average rating is 4 out of 5


Joe Beck


Posted on:

Jul 11, 2023

Film Reviews
Car Sick
Directed by:
David Hayman Jr.
Written by:
Marcus McPeake
Jamie Marie Leary, Kathryn Howden, Eoin Sweeney

David Hayman Jr.’s ‘Car Sick’ is a neat Scottish drama that examines compulsion and isolation in a real world setting, yet whilst it probes these topics in an interesting manner, it fails, just slightly, to truly stick the landing. 


Car sickness is common - though some suffer more than others - yet ordinarily such sensation occurs when the vehicle is in motion (although to some people - including a relative of this critic - it’s the smell and stuffiness of the car). The sickness experienced by Hannah McCauley (Jamie Marie Leary, however, is twofold - and neither is caused by the car itself. Hannah has a medical problem, or, at least she believes that she does, although the doctors tell her otherwise, and that she is, in fact, in perfect health. The larger sickness facing Hannah is mental, as, compelled by paranoia, fear, and compulsion, she has taken to living within her car inside hospital grounds, so that she is near to the hospital in case her problems get worse, which she believes them to be.


Of course, as a doctor points out, any problems will be compounded by eating junk food and living in a car during the harsh Scottish winter, yet nevertheless Hannah soldiers on, even despite the dissuasion of everyone from the doctors, to her mother, to Vincent (Eoin Sweeney), her partner. They look at her incredulously, with her partner even calling her mad, before manipulatively blaming her for ruining Christmas in a ploy to get her to return home - though his intentions are no doubt correct. Hannah is in an eternal state of flux - avoiding calls from work, brushing her teeth into a coffee cup, being woken in the middle of the night by ambulances - yet she nonetheless continues, almost out of stubbornness as if just trying to prove to the naysayers that she is really sick.


What the screenplay, written by Marcus McPeake, does so well, is subtly illustrate the state of turmoil which Hannah’s mind is in. The little actions which seem strange to us - i.e. using loo roll as a stand for her toothbrush - are made to seem perfectly natural to her, whilst the rationale and logic presented to her by Vincent and the doctors only alienate her from them and cause distrust and frustration. Hannah is stuck in this place, and though her mother offers support with the addition of christmasy fairy lights to her car, she is very much alone with herself. Jamie Marie Leary understands this in her performance, which is magnificent in detailing the weariness and confusion, as perhaps even Hannah fails to understand her actions, in just the blank expression which becomes a permanent feature of her face.


Aided further by a director in David Hayman Jr. who shows a certain understanding of the complexities of the screenplay, ‘Car Sick’ is a thoughtful character study that only falters in its ending, which feels abrupt and contrived, though doesn’t detract from the strength of the twelve or so minutes that precede it.

About the Film Critic
Joe Beck
Joe Beck
Short Film
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