“The Mend” is John Magary‘s feature debut as writer and director, and while I ultimately did not like the film, I think he shows a great deal of promise as a filmmaker. The movie becomes quite disjointed and messy, especially in its latter half, but some will like this rather unconventional approach. Personally, however, I prefer narratives that are easier to follow, and I do feel they can be done without becoming formulaic.
That said, “The Mend,” starring Josh Lucas, has a lot of stylistic flourishes that are compelling and creative. Magary opens with a scene between Lucas’ character and his girlfriend, during which they fight, and Lucas leaves and wanders about New York City. We learn a lot about the character in these scenes, and let’s just say that he isn’t a very appealing guy.
That brings us to one of the film’s biggest problems: The two main characters, brothers played by Lucas and Stephen Plunkett, never really become sympathetic. They are also sometimes boring – the kiss of death in a movie.
The film is at times funny, but also depressing. It shows two men who are lost, and they’re often absolute jerks in the process. Lucas’ character is lazy and frequently mooches off of others. To be honest, not much happens in the film, and there is certainly no transformation of the characters, which I’m sure was intentional. Despite the limitations of the script, Lucas and Plunkett give excellent performances.
“The Mend,” which also stars Mickey Sumner and veteran actor/director Austin Pendleton, opened in theaters on Aug. 21, 2005.