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Glassland, starring Jack Reynor and Toni Collette, tells the story of a young taxi driver who gets tangled up in the world of human trafficking.

3 out of 4 stars

Title
Glassland
Written by
Gerard Barrett
Directed by
Gerard Barrett
Starring
Jack Reynor, Toni Collette, Will Poulter
Classification
14A
Country
USA
Language
English

Glassland's opening scene has a young son dealing with an empty milk bottle and no clean spoon for morning cereal – this is a household not well-tended. An alcoholic single mother and said son enjoy a listen to Soft Cell's Tainted Love, with lyrics tidily illustrating his frustration with their taxing relationship. These are examples of efficient, versatile storytelling techniques by Ireland's Gerard Barrett, the second-time writer-director whose Dublin-set Glassland impressively conveys the heartbreak and desperation of a wine-bottled home. Intimately shot and never overmanaged, the poignant drama thrives on highly credible mom-and-son portrayals by Toni Collette and Jack Reynor, a taxi-driving man of the house who does suspicious things for much-needed extra cash. Yes, a subplot involving an Asian woman is hazy. And, yes, the film's take on the psychology of alcohol addiction is ambiguous. (Is it a "cunning disease," or is the mother knowingly bent on slow suicide?) Still, despite those shortcomings, Glassland is a small film with an emotional punch that wallops above its weight class.

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