Apr 21, 2015

Posted in News

A Man on the Edge of Life, Death and Discovery

A Man on the Edge of Life, Death and Discovery

This year’s West Chester Film Festival is causing a major buzz among cinephiles and members of the media alike, its array of short films having caused quite a stir in the respective countries they were made, owing to their ability to make us think, to surprise us and to spur us on to change. There are many thought provoking films that present many of the malaises faced by modern man. Dad (a film by Alexey Sparrow and Tanya Shell) delves into the passage of time, and into the human penchant for recalling happy moments with nostalgia, sometimes to the point of obsession. Dead Over Heels, by Jose Matheu, forays into the isolation of modern men and women, who are devoid of social connections but who still yearn for romance and passion.
One of the most highly praised films of this year’s Festival, is undoubtedly A Man on the Edge, by talented Aussie, Edward Lyons. The director’s small but exquisite body of work often delves deep into the themes of suicide and death. Can I Call You, his first film released in 2006, is a short horror flick about a woman who goes on an Internet date, which soon turns into a violent debacle. Delusion, from 2012, is the story of a troubled young woman whose life is overtaken by the cult of celebrity. The film forays into the power of the media to alter our perceptions of what is desirable and beautiful. Thus, in the same way that female celebrities have shaped collective ideals of beauty (and, many would argue, unwittingly spurred on eating disorders, since female celebrities tend to subscribe to a specific body shape), actors and actresses have also framed our idea of how to obtain much coveted notoriety. Actors such as Marilyn Monroe, James Dean and Elvis Presley even made suicide and/or early deaths seem glamorous, so much so that the protagonist of Delusion begins to think that a sensationalized suicide is the only thing that can lend her life the glitz and glam of celebrity.
A Man on the Edge begins with a man, Adam Western, who is standing on a cliff, ready to jump to his death. His resolve is shaken when a beautiful young woman appears. He resists her at first, but then gives in to the temptation of sharing his deepest and darkest secret with her: he has killed his wife. The film tells the story of the shaky relationship between Adam and his wife, whose mental illness has led her to take desperate measures. The beautiful woman listens to Adam and tries to enlighten him to the many reasons why it isn’t his time to go. As the story unfolds, the audience is taken on a roller coast of emotions, and there are a few twists and turns along the way, until a big mystery is resolved and both the man and the audience find peace.
According to Edward Lyons, the inspiration for this film came in the form of Don Ritchie, a man known in Sydney as the ‘Angel of the Gap’ (the Gap is an imposing cliff located on the South Head peninsula of Watsons Bay). Ritchie, who died in 2012 at the age of 86, was famed for talking to people on the verge of suicide, often stopping them from going ahead with their ill fated plan. The Director says, “I wrote A Man On The Edge wanting to explore the dramatic struggle of life and death in the context of the Good Samaritan and the Suicidal Stranger… dramatically, there are very few things as engaging as a character that has given up on all sense of hope. We cannot help but feel for them and wonder if somehow things might have been different.”
The film is deeply engaging but also informative, since it delves into the thought processes and feelings that can contribute to a sense of hopelessness. Ultimately, it is by looking back that we find hope for the future, through priceless memories and magical moments that last an eternity. A Man on the Edge is one of the must-see films of this year’s West Chester Film Festival: a tale of guilt and longing and ultimately, of acceptance and resilience.

Written by Eve Pearce

Leave a Reply