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We've all been "on the edge" at times...
on August 25, 2009
Every once in a while, a film comes along with a common subject that is fashioned differently and feels like a breath of fresh air. 2001 Irish film "On the Edge" is one of these movies.
The adorable Cillian Murphy, (Batman Begins), stars as Jonathan, a young man with a carefree, non-committal attitude towards life. He has just lost his father and, after a night of debauchery, tries to commit suicide by driving his car off of a cliff with his father's ashes in the back seat. Keeping with the light humor displayed throughout the story, though, Jonathan lives and his only wound is a broken pinky finger. Because he tried to kill himself, he is offered the choice of a prison sentence or admission to a mental hospital. He chooses the mental hospital.
At the hospital, which Jonathan clearly states he is treating as a vacation and nothing more, he is coached along by a psychologist, Dr. Figure, played by Stephen Rea, who ends up helping him deeply despite his first impression of the doctor. Jonathan attends a group therapy session and ends up making friends with Toby, (Jonathan Jackson), another young man with a dark secret and Rachel, (Tricia Vassey), whom Jonathan immediately fancies but who creeps him out a bit with her turn-on of blood.
Over the course of the film, you can see how the bonds between these three people are deepened, with Dr. Figure fleshing out the picture and helping Jonathan despite his protests. Toby harbors a crush on Rachel, which becomes more apparent when he writes a poem for her. Jonathan defends Toby when he almost ends up in a violent fight at a bowling alley and Jonathan almost ends up paying for it. This will be the first time that Dr. Figure steps in an tries to teach Jonathan that he needs to start valuing his own life, too. Jonathan will learn that lesson by the end of the film, though, when his love for Rachel grows and, after a tragic circumstance, her parents take her out of the hospital. Jonathan is miserable and worried and in the end, Dr. Figure helps him to achieve the one thing he desparately needs to do.
The acting in this film is rich, especially from Jonathan Jackson who is an American actor but flew to Ireland to make this film and took on the accent in an uncanny fashion. Cillian Murphy is excellent as always, as is Stephen Rea, and the story is interesting enough to keep your attention. It is sort of like "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" meets a young adult drama, but without a lot of the melodramatic acting that usually comes along with it. Plus, the soundtrack is a nice boost, starting out right up front with "1979" by the Smashing Pumpkins and includes "Alright" by Supergrass, "Please Forgive Me" by David Gray, and "Is She Weird?" by the Pixies, among other great songs.
If you were impressed with Cillian Murphy's performance as the Scarecrow in Batman Begins, you should definitely check out this film. And even if you have no idea who he is, this is a charming film that takes place in psycho-therapy but doesn't make the whole film about that concept. It is more of a focus on human behavior and relationships and what leads us to do what we do.