Alex (Jonny Mars) makes a trip to see his mother and learns that the man who abused him as a child is alive and living on the outskirts of the town. Seeking him out, Alex inserts himself into his abuser’s life, a man who is almost incapacitated and barely able to live alone. Deeply affected by what happened to him as a child, Alex starts to plot revenge as he processes what he’s been through and tries to decide what he should do next.
Discreet is the latest film from provocative film-maker Travis Mathews, the man behind I Want Your Love and Interior Leather Bar. A bleak and dreary drama, much of what unfolds in Discreet is so abstract that you wonder how it’s all going to tie together. Alex is clearly a messed-up individual and he has a strange addiction to a video blogger called Mandy (Atsuko Okatsuka) who he hopes to meet in real-life. The film is frequently disrupted by Mandy’s voice, which I actually found pretty annoying.
At times it feels like the plot is barely there, with the film chugging along at a sluggish pace. It’s not really an exploration of a child abuse survivor and the very slow build as Alex decides what to do with his abuser John (Bob Swaffer) results in an anti-climax in the midst of the film’s many distractions. Alex doesn’t seem to have much rhyme or reason to his actions. One moment he’s orchestrating orgies so he can rob people and the next he’s hooking up with an older man he’s met in a porn shop.
Performance-wise it’s hard to judge the cast really. Only Jonny Mars gets much to do and most of that he does silently. There’s not a lot of dialogue to sink your teeth into and the film completely lacks energy. Mars is adequate in the role but he doesn’t get a whole lot to work with, simply veering from contemplative to angry. There’s not a whole lot going on in-between.
Discreet is not going to be everybody’s cup of tea and it certainly wasn’t mine. The film didn’t really deliver on its premise and by the time the credits rolled I felt a sense of relief rather than one of enjoyment or fulfilment. Mathews tries so hard to deliver an abstract film that the story and the characters get completely lost. Discreet is a disappointment and for me, it’s not a patch on Mathews’ previous work.
Cast: Jonny Mars, Atsuko Okatsuka, Jordan Elsass, Bob Swaffar Director: Travis Mathews Writer: Travis Mathews Certificate: 15 Duration: 80 mins Released by: Peccadillo Pictures Release date: 23rd July 2017