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A FrightFest surprise hit

The Glass Man dazzled on day two of FrightFest.

frightfest_glass_man

There’s no better feeling as a film fan than taking a punt on something and for it to figuratively end up in the back of the net; day two of FrightFest at the Empire in Leicester Square provided just that for me.

After a mainstream one-two combo on opening day of Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark and the devilishly entertaining Final Destination 5, plus a highly promising look at upcoming UK horror-comedy Cockneys Vs. Zombies (Richard Briers with an Uzi has to be seen to be believed), Friday’s schedule had a indie vibe that provided some great entertainment.

Best of the bunch originally belonged to The Holding, having its world premiere at the festival, a tense thriller elevated by two superb lead performances from Kierston Wareing, as impressive as she was on TV in The Shadow Line and Luther, and Vincent Regan who provides a memorable villain with an adept line in gallows humour.

However, the aforementioned punt on the world premiere of The Glass Man proved to be an inspired choice, even if I do say so myself.

A twisty thriller-cum-absorbing psychological character study, it features a blistering lead performance from Andy Nyman (a long-term fan of the festival, incidentally) as Martin Pyrite, a man who has lost his job but receives an offer from a mysterious stranger (James Cosmo) promising to wipe his debts clean if he helps him carry out an important task.

In a lively Q&A that followed the rapturously received screening, Nyman talked about how he drew on his personal life to play a character who loves his wife, but ends up lying to her as his world crashes around him. “The script was fantastic and then it’s just being open to that and trying to draw on anything that relates to you. I am very happily married and love my wife so much; it’s not hard to put yourself in that position and ask the question what if?”

“I honestly think that’s true of those questions that we take for granted. We tend to not be very good at not seeing how fortunate we are in life and some of those things get taken away from you – your house, your job, your livelihood, your pride. It’s very difficult to recover from that for a lot of people, so I just think you’ve got to ask those questions and that’s how I went about doing it.”

He also explained how the presence of a weak man in a lead role was what attracted him about the project. “I don’t think generally we see a lot of weak men in films, honestly weak instead of Woody Allen-y jokey weak; just normal, ordinary people who don’t know how to stand up for themselves.”

Writer-director Christian Solimeno (who also edited and stars in the film as well) was also on hand to describe his writing process. “You see these things in the news about these people who commit these terrible crimes against people that they love and I always thought how do you get to that point. So I’ve spent many hours wondering about that stuff and trying to connect those dots and finding the logic for that.”

Getting into the more psychological edge of the film, he also talked how people come up with reasons to deflect their own blame. “If I’m out jogging and some old lady burns past me, I find I’ll immediately make up some bullshit reason, like ‘ah, she’s probably an ex-Olympic athlete though’,” he joked.

And if anyone thinks it was his ego that saw him play the role of a famous actor in the film, it wasn’t; it was simply a case that they ran out of money, although he did mockingly say “when I tried to cast it, nobody could do it as good as me”.

FrightFest continues until Aug 29.

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