Sep 28, 2023
Mark Smith, Lauren Larkin, Daniel Ryan
We all need our own headspace. A little bubble of peace and solitude in which we can retreat to when the chips are down and we need a break from the hustle and bustle of the noisy world around us. For many that involves taking a walk amongst nature, maybe even a run through the park, giving our mind the opportunity to relax amidst some fresh air. Another way people can get inside their headspace is through music, taking us away from the noise, and allowing us to focus on the rhythm and beats.
Aisling Byrne’s short film ‘Headspace’ focuses on the importance of headspace and music in finding that headspace, yet whilst it is a well intentioned and all round good film, it lacks the spark that would really separate it from a teatime drama. Byrne’s directing doesn’t feel inspired or creative enough to get past the relative tameness of the story. It’s a slice of life film, yet it doesn’t contain either the euphoric highs or the despondent lows necessary to sustain drama and which are truly reflective of life itself.
There are no moments of real jeopardy for Tony (Mark Smith), nor are their moments of sheer elation, instead the film feels half baked and underwhelming. Intriguing characters are presented, and the potential for a great story is there, but it never feels as though enough emotion has been invested in the story. Instead Tony merely meanders along with his life, beginning with a meeting with his manager - he works at a local convenience store - that could have been worse but also could have been far better. His reliance on his headphones is evident, yet they are run down and breaking, interrupting his headspace as he commutes back from work and has to put up with his housemates in his community housing.
Living with down syndrome, as Tony does is tough, yet Tony clearly gets about his life well, with his disability seemingly hardly fazing him. It is for this reason that we are perturbed by the idea that he relies on a monthly allowance of petty cash, which he doesn’t even hold himself, and a savings account which he cannot access without speaking to his mother, which he does not want to do. The man only wants to buy new headphones - a necessity when sharing a house with the loud, excitable Michael (Daniel Ryan) who is constantly blaring his music - and yet he is prevented from doing so by the constraints placed upon him by carer Siobhan (Lauren Larkin), who, though a kind figure, is also evidently weary and tired of her job.
Byrne’s script is competent, with dialogue sounding natural and flowing well, even if, similar to her direction, it fails to truly zing off the screen. Nevertheless, her actors, and particularly Mark Smith in the lead role as Tony, give excellent performances, with Smith’s face telling plainly his frustration at the disruption of his headspace without him needing to even open his mouth.
Therefore, whilst ‘Headspace’ does frustrate, as you sense that it lacks a dramatic spark, it is nonetheless a solid, and largely enjoyable sixteen minutes, with an engaging lead performance from Mark Smith.