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average rating is 3 out of 5


Chris Buick


Posted on:

Dec 20, 2023

Film Reviews
Directed by:
James Brierley
Written by:
James Brierley, Natasha Brierley
Arlo Carter, Lucy Colcombe, Sarah Lott, Lucy Blanc, Conor Southwick, Dougie Boyall

Misunderstood tells the story of Lukas (Carter), a young man with autism who spends his days quite happily listening to music and reading his collection of magazines, until an encounter with some bullies causes him to shut out the world around him.


A film with an important message and one that does ultimately succeed in delivering that message, Misunderstood shows how people like Lukas can indeed be misinterpreted and misunderstood by others ignorant of the situation, even if it is a bit rough and heavy-handed in going about it. But it’s clearly a very personal and important topic for those involved here, and the subject is handled with a great deal of grace and care.


It’s actually a disturbing and painful watch at times seeing how the majority of the film’s supporting characters interact with Lukas, constantly perceiving his behaviour as weird, freakish or incomprehensible. This makes for quite an upsetting imbalance for the film’s tone, with all bar one of the supporting characters either coming across as just awful people or completely inept and ill-equipped to empathise or communicate with Lukas. It’s not a criticism of the film as it’s evidently a creative choice to emphasise a point, but it does mean that it feels heavy on the soul from the start, with little respite from there on as the weight seems to get heavier and heavier.


What does work in the film, and needed to given the importance of the role, is Carter’s very affecting performance as Lukas, very disciplined in its delivery and understanding of the character resulting in an applaudable piece of acting. Unfortunately, Carter’s good acting turn only highlights the fact that the supporting cast aren’t really on the same level performance-wise. Some of it comes down to some choice moments in the dialogue which can at times fall under either poorly written or under-delivered. But it’s also partly down to the fact that all of these supporting characters feel a bit flat and one-dimensional, with little insight into who they are or what they’re about, leaving these actors with very few opportunities to show any range and again seemingly only in place to appear either vile or ignorant.


The score does overpower the dialogue at times, never to the point where anything said becomes completely inaudible but is definitely muted. The inclusion of the film's big dramatic set piece around the halfway mark seems a bit half-baked, it’s hard to understand the motivations of that certain character in what seems an attempt to try and suddenly inject a sense of drama towards the end, which could have been executed better. But it’s aesthetically on point, with some clever framing choices helping to add punch to some of the more dramatic or emotional beats which are the moments that do make the film work.


Misunderstood lacks a bit of direction and quality in some areas but shows some deft technical execution and manages to make its point clearly while giving voice to an important subject.

About the Film Critic
Chris Buick
Chris Buick
Short Film
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