The Bye Bye Man
The Bye Bye Man is the kind of film that is so boring and bereft of anything of possible interest that it becomes infuriating.
Movies alone don't have the power to discourage people from drinking or encourage them to stop; but if they did, "Glassland," about the relationship between an alcoholic mother and her grown son, might not be a bad candidate to show on Intervention Movie Night. Written and directed by Gerard Barrett, this intimate Irish drama travels a road that'll be familiar to anyone who's ever seen a film about addiction, or known an addict, but the fact that all stories of addiction are essentially the same doesn't blunt its impact.
Jack Reynor plays a Dublin taxi driver named John who
seems to spend much of his rather paltry downtime coping with his mom , Jean (Toni Collette), who by more than one person's estimate is drinking herself to death: suicide by debauchery. The film is a record of things experienced and seen, no more and no less. It starts with Jack waking up in the morning, and very quickly it gives us a glimpse of what it's like for him to share a flat with his mum. The place is a mess, there are dirty dishes piled high in the sink, and he waters down the milk he puts on his cereal, which is either a sign that they're low on money or that nobody in the house has the time or energy to go to the store.
The first time we meet Jean, she's passed out, seemingly overdosed; as soon as she recovers, thanks to her son scooping her up and taking her to the emergency room, she starts drinking again. John watches her while trying to get her to see herself. At one point he even takes out his cell phone and records one of her drunken, screaming rants, to give her an objective point-of-view on what it's like to be around her when she's at her worst. This has no effect on Jean. She doesn't need his pity or his attention. She can quit any time she wants. She's just having fun. It's no big deal. She's got it under control. And so on.
And yet there's nothing condemnatory in John's gaze, or the movie's. This overgrown boy still loves his mother, even though she makes his life hell and seems determined to kill herself one glass at a time. Sometimes he stares at her adoringly even when she's downing glass after glass of wine and dancing around the kitchen to "Tainted Love" (a rather on-the-nose music choice, but acceptable; sometimes life hands you a soundtrack). Sometimes he even drinks with her. Why not? That's all she ever really does: drink. If you want to relate to your mom you have to find common ground.