The Mend

The drums of anticipation were not fervently thumping in our breast as we stepped before our lectern to view this American independent film. Yes, we watch films from a lectern now; we have torn all the seating in our living quarters to tatters in our hysterical contempt for the cinema, and have found that screaming at our flatscreen is most satisfying when we have something to grip--an external support for our frame allows us to channel additional energy into our vitriol, permits us to even throw in the odd hoot of incredulity. And were we ever hooting in such fashion at the synopsis the capitalist septic tank iTunes provides of this film:

"The Mend follows a mismatched yin-yang pair of NYC brothers, as they stagger dimly towards some understanding of love, women, masculinity and what it truly means to be a brother."

We would rather watch anything else in the world than such a film! we hooted. We would rather watch Beethoven's 2nd again, or Salo, for the eleventh time! In fact we did want to watch Salo for the eleventh time, and did. The next evening, something in the waft of The Mend's seeming putrescence pulled us ineluctably back into its orbit, and we gave it our hour and fifty, which we otherwise planned to do little of value with besides calling and haranguing again a particular member of Netflix's support staff whose psyche we are attempting to unhinge, mostly to prove to ourselves we have the power to do so. A minor existential project of ours, easily set aside.

And lo, The Mend is another thing entirely than what we thought. Firstly because Josh Lucas, heretofore known as "that one man who is in some films we have seen," stands revealed here as the angel of chaos, of désordre, of spleen and phlegm. And secondly because much of the film, whatever its derivations predictable (Scorsese) and un- (Desplechin, that lively bourgeois noodler), nonetheless reminds us of a performance of a symphony we attended as a child with our darling if fatally bourgeois mother (this was some years before the loss of her legs), where all of the members of the orchestra clearly desired to brutalize, kill, and devour each other, but were held in a kind of blissful tension by the dissonant force of the music itself, a dissonance which by some pagan magic incorporated and neutralized their cannibalistic impulses, which were especially apparent in the violinists, sawing away at their instruments in vigorous psychosis.

All of which is to say we did not scream so much at this film. We did, however, become restless whenever the father obtruded too greatly as a theme. The father in cinema is always Stalin, and this has not become less heavy of hand with endless repetition.