Director Christian Solimeno is better known in front of the camera, appearing in every possible British TV soap and series you care to name over the past 20 years. This is his third outing as a director and his first since 2011’s The Glass Man. In this latest feature, which he also writes, produces and briefly stars, he takes aim at the mental health crisis we are facing in the UK, particularly in young and middle-aged men.

Artist Al (Grant) has isolated himself from his friends and family; social anxiety, crippling self-doubt, and depression all coalescing to drive him to ignore his best friend Danny’s phone calls and house calls. After giving up at the door once again, Danny drops a DVD through Al’s letterbox with the simple words ‘I Made This For You’ written in black marker on the disk. Al pours himself a glass of whiskey and puts the DVD into his machine.

What follows is a documentary made up of interviews from the people in Al’s life chatting all things Al; how they met, what he means to them, why they miss him. Al is filmed in bleached black and white, often from odd angles giving a Tarkovsky level of grimness to his flat, while the rest of the world is viewed on the TV in full glorious technicolour. It’s not subtle but works well enough. We hear from ex-girlfriends, school friends, university friends, school teachers, and family; sweetness and sadness being drizzled equally throughout.

At various points, particularly around the middle 20 minutes or so, Solimeno seems to forget he’s making a feature film and slips too close to a mental health awareness video. Awareness videos merits aside, it’s not where you want to centre your full-length feature. Almost as a knee-jerk to counter this, the plot suddenly refocuses on Al’s estranged mother to relive the events which lead to her walking away from him as an 8-year-old. This focus shift from general depressive anxiety disorder to abandonment issues is logical and makes sense, but is perhaps too much of a reach to attempt to decipher in 117 minutes.

Pace problems aside, Solimeno has put together an important and mostly successful snapshot of the grim realities of anxiety, depression, and the ever-decreasing personal social world it creates. Grant puts in an excellent performance, especially given he only has 4 words in the entire film, and no-one can argue with the need for more exposure for the subject matter. Looking forward to seeing what Solimeno comes up with next.

Dir: Cristian Solimeno

Scr: Cristian Solimeno

Cast: Gary Grant, Ali Cook, Alison Newman

Prd: Cristian Solimeno

DOP: Bruce Melhuish   

Country: UK

Year: 2020

Run Time: 117 Minutes

I Made This For Youwill be available for FREE on Youtube from 10th September on this link:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRhN3zGArX-bvoEP3NplTvQ

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