I was lucky enough to see the Melbourne premier of Barry Adamson’s Therapist and now it’s out on DVD, it’s worth taking a look again at his first celluloid work.
Barry Adamson has been around the music scene since the 1970’s, playing with bands such as Magazine, The Birthday Party and Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. His first solo work, the noir Moss Side Story (1988), was a soundtrack for a movie that didn’t actually exist, a musical soundscape of murky celluloid acts. This seemingly informed much that followed, from the downright unsettling It’s Business As Usual (Oedipus Schmoedipus, 1996), where phone stalkers are put to music, cool jazzy numbers such as Jazz Devil (As Above, So Below, 1998), and guitar-pounding rock with Destination off his latest album I Will Set You Free (2012). Arguably, all his work belongs to the noir genre, made famous by Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep.
Therapist is the first time he’s gone to film and there are nods to David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive among others. Nodding is fine, but this was more whiplash; it’s okay to honour the work of others, but when it jumps out at you then the audience disconnects from the work. This, arguably, occurred in the latest Star Trek outing, with direct quotes from original movies inserted as homage gone too far beyond the final frontier.
Pacing in the short was problematic, though while the visuals, acting and set design passed muster, there was a feeling that there should have been less moody silence and a little more getting to the point. This could be forgiven; first time film makers don’t necessarily know the methods of the pro’s, the tweaks to make the movie glide forwards on roller-skates instead of lurching like someone who’s come off them.
The music on the other hand showed a practiced hand, which is understandable for someone of Barry’s vintage; mood music along the lines of Moss Side Story with a dose of the more modern sensibilities found in Back to the Cat (2008) and Stranger on the Sofa (2006). If you buy the twin CD and DVD set just for this, you’ll have got your money’s worth.
At the moment Joss Whedon, he ain’t. Practice makes perfect though, and at the very least, Barry has made a first step into the visual medium he’s referenced for so many years. With a track record of producing interesting and cool works, who knows what he’ll come up with next?
£10.18 (DVD & CD)