Lost Solace Movie Review
Written by Simret Cheema-Innis
Released by Jinga Films
Directed by Chris Scheuerman
Written by Andrew Jenkins and Chris Scheuerman
2016, 106 minutes, Not Rated
Andrew Jenkins as Spence
Melissa Roxburgh as Azaria
Leah Gibson as Betty
Charlie Kerr as Jory
Writer-director Chris Scheuerman weaves together a discerning story inspired by his own life experience surrounding issues of mental health. Both Scheuerman and main star Andrew Jenkins, who plays the central character in the film, penned the screenplay which gives a lucid picture about a psychopath who develops emotion and battles against a turbulent journey to reach equilibrium.
The film opens with Spence (Andrew Jenkins), who at first hand appears to be a sociopath, a wealth-sucking predator with a weakness for lonely women who just want to be loved. He stands naked in his lover’s mansion as she ogles over him, grateful for his presence, while he on the other hand fixates on an expensive looking oil painting. His lover explains that she painted it whilst she was in therapy and that it helped her through the hard times, Spence appears impervious to her heartfelt confession and in turn she throws him the keys to her BMW. Why women reward men for their misgivings will always surprise me, but then again she probably never knew he was a psychopath.
Spence drives off with her car and when he arrives at his languid apartment, he stashes the oil painting away within a secret chamber, home to a treasure chest of stolen belongings which serve as mascots for his devious conquests.
One night whilst searching for his next target to placate his desire for personal gratification, he strolls into a club and seduces club-goers into giving him some Ecstasy. Spence feels the effects immediately, experiencing extreme moments of disillusionment, instability and momentary seizures. But by the morning, he’s back to his normal self, hunting his next victim Azaria (Melissa Roxenburgh), another wealthy beau who lives with her mentally impaired brother Jory (Charlie Kerr) and estranged and often absent father. The two are a cocktail of baggage, as Azaria tries to contain an erratic Jory and tend to her own socio-romantic needs. They form a quick relationship, but Jory is suspicious of Spence’s actions. After all, it takes one mentally challenged individual to recognise another; even insanity has its rules and commonplace.
Spence begins experiencing the seizures again, they become more intense and seemingly painful; in the meanwhile, Jory wants to kill his father and strikes a deal promising Spence his inheritance money if he helps. Unfortunately for the both of them, it goes terribly wrong, Spence experiences a seizure whilst Jory has a change of heart.
Checking himself into a hospital and under the care of psychologist Betty (Leah Gibson), who’s aware of the mysterious drug on the market, she makes him take a personality test revealing that the seizures he’s feeling are in fact emotion, an adverse reaction for psychopaths. This revelation is too much for Spence to handle, his mind and body are unable to cope with these excruciating bouts of emotion, so he strikes yet another deal, this time with Betty, for his aid in developing a cure to antisocial behaviour disorder, she helps to treat his emerging condition
Chris Scheuerman has created a solid character study of a man who comes in conflict with something truly foreign to him, sensations that suddenly affect his pathological behaviourisms, and are in essence both terrifying and painful. Jenkin’s performance, although slightly underplayed in states where he does experience sparks of emotion, is believable. For any psychopath who begins to experience feelings is a horror movie in itself. The sudden instability of the mind is like a razorblade slicing through cartilage for character Spence, the uncontrollable bursts of compassion are life threatening, as emotions prove that they have the ability to kill. You just have to look at how fear and even love loss have claimed the lives of many, exposing life’s cerebral fragility.
In one scene, Spence engages in what would usually be a physical and routine act of intimacy but suddenly becomes an intense love connection. He feels pleasure through emotion rather than the tactile thrusting of bodies and flesh he once knew, he experiences orgasm for the first time as his body reaches a new found state of pleasure and passion.
Scheuerman covers sentiment in every aspect and just how difficult it is to deal with morality when all you’ve ever known is disinhibition. He also poses a question of whether every man who doesn’t have a mental health issue can disconnect from a woman in the same way a psychopath can. Sex for non-psychopathic men can be a purely physical and biological act, but whether a man can truly detach himself from the physical the same way a psychopath can would be interesting to know and whether the peak of climax is the same. Technically a psychopath might have an orgasm, but it might not be felt in the same way as a ‘normally,’ detached man. And if so, does it mean every man that is engaging in loveless sex has the scope to be a psychopath. Perhaps in reality a non-psychopathic man cannot even fuck without a love connection, thus making fucking only a psychopath thing.
Lost Solace is a special kind of film, one that you can watch again because each time you will resonate with the main character and the unravelling humanity of the picture.
Scheuerman has very carefully pieced together a compassionate and personal screenplay.
Whether or not we feel sorry and have developed a sense compassion for Spence in the first place is another question and perhaps where a more in-depth backstory could have been interwoven. It brings me back to the birth of another psychopath and insight into the human condition with We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lynne Ramsey. A young boy over the course of his childhood demonstrates the traits of a psychopath which eventually result in him slaughtering his own family. The audience is left torn in a blame game as the roots of his lunacy are contrasted with the difficult relationship he experienced with his own mother, suggesting that perhaps the making of a psychopath flourishes at the bosom.
In Lost Solace, we’re left feeling sorry for a man who will now have to face every bad thing he’s ever done, every heart he’s broken and learn about the art of doing good because his sociopathic tendencies are fading. He will now have to join Earl (My Name is Earl) and hire a Shinto Priest to exorcise his bad karma by doing good, but most importantly learn to deal with that little pumping thing in his chest called a heart.