Monday, January 16, 2017

Now on Netflix: Mad (2016)

Mad (2016) - Written and Directed by Robert G. Putka; Starring Jennifer Lafleur, Maryann Plunkett, Eilis Cahill, Mark Reeb.

By Kenny Howell

Every so often, an indie film comes along that you are kind of puzzled why it isn't a bigger hit. Or in this case, really recognized much at all

Mad, the first feature film from Robert G. Putka, is one of those movies. It has all the makings of an underground hit, but I didn't hear about it until I just so happened to see it on Netflix. I am glad that I did.

It follows a family of a mother and two daughters. The mother Mel (Maryann Puckett) suffers from bipolar disorder and at the beginning of the film we see her going through a mental breakdown. She can't stop crying, and when she is taken to the hospital, her daughters come to her aid. Well, sort of. They are there, but only out of a sense of obligation. The older, and more in charge daughter Connie (Jennifer Lafleur) seems to be tired of dealing with her mother's problems. She agrees that her mother should stay in a facility until this incident passes, and they can get it under control.

Her other daughter Casey (Eilis Cahill) is a little less ambitious, and doesn't really have her life together yet. Connie is sure to point this out repeatedly, as she feels that Casey needs her mistakes pointed out to her constantly so that she will change. There is obviously some very strained relationships here between these three women, and Putka has tons of fun with it as he sets up the story.

Things start to get hairy when Connie is notified that someone in her department was involved in some illegal federal activities, and that the company will actually be suing her to protect themselves because it happened under her watch. Casey joins a writing club, which of course Connie belittles, but she is trying to find her own voice. Mel befriends another patient in the facility and listens to his crazy stories as she tries to get some sort of normalcy in that place.

Putka has a gift, and it is surprising that this film is still flying under the radar. He has a screwball comedy ear for dialogue, as his characters bounce, a lot of the time insults, back and forth at each other at a rapid pace, and much of it lands so perfectly. He is lucky he has Lafleur and Cahill taking control of those words, because they are perfectly cast here. Lafleur is like a chainsaw at times, buzzing through everyone in the scene, and Cahill is good at picking her spots to get those perfect moments in. It could be all cold insults, but Putka does have a human touch here, as each character has to deal with her issues in a very real way. It gets quite touching near the end of the film, and just adds to what is a very special work that I hope gets the attention it deserves.

Mad is now streaming on Netflix.

Rating: ***1/2

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