Every day he gets dressed, has breakfast, takes a pack lunch from his wife Julie (Neve Campbell), kisses her on the cheek and sets off. He has nowhere to go though. A man clearly defined to some degree by his financial status he is lost, he’s floundering and unable to get a grip back on his life.
When he visits his old office to contest a bad reference he’s been given he is treated like a pariah, an edict has been made by his old boss that he is to be ignored, not spoken to, that if he approaches one of his old colleagues they are to treat him as if he’s not there. Leaving the office he seeks refuge in an ice cream parlour but upon leaving to take a phone call from his wife he is mugged. He’s not mugged at gun point or knife point though, he is simply bullied into submission, giving up his expensive watch to someone who intimidates him. The scene is heartbreaking and hard to watch and Nyman’s performance is filled with powerful pathos.
Returning home his wife confronts him about an answer phone message that seems to suggest he’s having an affair but the real story behind the message is related to his unemployment. Even when put in this difficult position Martin refuses to reveal the fact that he’s lost his job to his wife, the shame he feels is clearly powerful.
The argument over but unresolved his wife takes to bed heavily sedated and Martin receives a visit from a ‘heavy’ (played with seemingly effortless class by James Cosmo), someone who he now owes money to and is intent on collecting. Striking a deal Martin agrees to go with this stranger and carry out an undisclosed task in exchange for his debt being wiped clean. The film then moves into darker and more mysterious areas, never losing the pathos and intensity of what has gone before, and arrives at a surprising and thought-provoking climax.
The end of The Glass Man will most likely be the talking point for many when the film finally sees a wide release, but the meat of the film is really in everything that has gone before. With a thinly drawn but wholly convincing relationship between Martin and Julie providing an emotional backdrop to the film, the core of the drama that plays out in this taut thriller all rests on the character of Martin and the extraordinary portrayal of this broken man by Nyman.
Director Solimeno does an excellent job of ensuring that the story is told visually and Martin’s emotional state is often conveyed through the composition. Whilst the skilful use of mise-en-scene to tell the story, rather than a reliance on overly explicit dialogue, is to be commended, the framing and lighting is a little rough around the edges in places and not always up to the standard one expects from cinematic features. The sound mix is also technically very shoddy, possibly in part due to the rush to get the film to the screen at FrightFest, but the actual use of the sound mix and the highly effective score adds greatly to the cumulative effect of the drama unfolding.
Whilst the narrative twists that occur later in the film may not add up entirely the story presented on screen is utterly enthralling and Nyman’s central performance is absolutely wonderful.