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Barry Adamson’s Therapist – film review

November 11, 2012


“Sever the doubts in your heart with the sword of self knowledge.”

Written, edited, scored and directed by Barry Adamson. Starring: Ray Fearon, David Hayman, Ofo Uhiara and introducing Iza Sawicka. Running time: 40 mins

Barry Adamson is an English musician who, among other things, co-founded the post-punk band Magazine and Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds. But he is perhaps best known for his instrumental music which has featured in such movies as Lost Highway and Natural Born Killers. His pre-existing track Something Wicked This Way Comes was used to great effect in the party scene in Lynch’s movie. He also wrote, arranged and produced the tracks Hollywood Sunset and Mister Eddy’s Theme for the same film, the latter piece brilliantly enhancing the sense of menace of Robert Loggia’s character.

Barry Adamson

I had the great pleasure of seeing Adamson play in an intimate club setting a couple of months ago here in Adelaide, where he came across as a very humble and genuine person. He seemed genuinely floored by the enthusiastic response he received from the crowd (it was the first time he had toured Australia in decades) and you could definitely feel the love in the room. For me it was perhaps the musical highlight of the year seeing him perform. With his blending of 70’s lounge, acid jazz and funk, with an underlying hint of menace and melancholia, his music could be best described as thought food for the soul. In exploring the dark side of the human condition, Adamson is clearly drawing inspiration from within.

And so it was with some apprehension that I approached this, his directorial debut. Would Adamson the filmmaker, I wondered, live up to Adamson the musician?

Therapist is a psychological thriller in the style of David Lynch (bringing to mind Mulholland Drive and Inland Empire in particular).

A filmmaker named Bigger (Ray Fearon), suffering anxiety and self doubt, consults a pyschotherapist, Neville (David Hayman), in order to move ahead with a screenplay he is developing. His script entitled ‘The Gemini Complex’ is the story of Anna (Iza Sawicka), a Polish girl who has arrived in London in search of her twin sister Monika (Sawicka again). The girls were victims of horrific abuse back in Poland and the script Bigger has written mirrors a dark secret of his own – a secret in which Neville is ultimately implicated.

Therapist is an accomplished debut from Barry Adamson. It is dark and troubling, with flashes of startling honesty. The sound design is a major contibutor to its overall visceral impact and Lynchian soundscapes abound, creating a palpable sense of dread which is unrelenting.

Iza Sawicka

Polish performance artist and singer Iza Sawicka (who performs her own unique brand of music under the name ‘Izes’) features in the dual role of Anna/Monika. The film marks her acting debut and she is fascinating to watch – a real find.

For someone who has never edited film before, Adamson demonstrates natural ability in this area. The editing is razor-sharp and, incorporated with the sound design, creates a fully-rounded visual and aural experience. Image and sound are inseparable in this film.

While Barry Adamson’s Therapist may not be for everyone, it is quite confronting in parts, I do urge fans of his work to seek it out.

As to its meaning – it’s up to the viewer to decide. I have my own interpretation – and that’s the beauty of art – we should all have have our own interpretations.

And Barry, if you are reading this, please don’t leave it another twenty years before you return to Australia – come back soon!

And please make more movies!

Greg Moss is a film school graduate with a background in directing music videos and is currently seeking representation as a screenwriter. He likes right-brained people, feeding the cat and watching genre movies.

From → film reviews

  1. I’m not sure it sounds like my kind of thing, but I love the photo at the top 🙂 Great write up as always Greg!


    • gregory moss permalink

      Cheers man! Yeah, it’s not for everyone – but I’m a huge David Lynch fan, as Barry appears to be too. And it’s interesting in that photo – in a rack behind Iza – there’s quite a collection of sunglasses – which makes me think it may actually be Barry’s own apartment. 🙂


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