Headspace Image


By Alan Ng | October 2, 2023

Aisling Byrne’s dramatic short, Headspace, takes us into the everyday lives of some remarkable adults. Tony (Mark Smith) lives in a home where he and his neighbors are all intellectually disabled in one way or the other. Tony has Down Syndrome but has his own room and a job. That said, he requires supervision, though only minimal. Tony has an advocate at work to ensure he’s being paid fairly and a support system at his community house.

While Headspace gives us a snapshot of a typical day in Tony’s life, the story adds an interesting wrinkle with his neighbor, Michael (Daniel Ryan). Like Tony, Michael has Down Syndrome but is a bit of an attention seeker. To make matters worse, it’s Michael’s birthday, and everyone needs to know it… all the time… every second of the day. This annoys Tony.

“…it’s Michael’s birthday, and everyone needs to know it… all the time… every second of the day.”

Headspace shines because it is a simple story. Tony is quiet and wants to live in peace. Now, he has to find a way to find that peace again when in the presence of Michael. The lead tries to figure it out on his own but realizes he needs to confront the situation.

Along with its narrative comes a touching and authentic performance by Mark Smith. He is not acting, and yet, he is. He hits all the right emotions when set against Ryan’s more boisterous portrayal. Ultimately, this is acting and doesn’t even come close to looking like a community theater play.

I’m pretty sure we know disabled adults who require lifelong supervision, and Headspace is a touching glimpse into their lives.

Headspace (2023)

Directed and Written: Aisling Byrne

Starring: Mark Smith, Daniel Ryan, etc.

Movie score: 7.5/10

Headspace Image

"…a touching and authentic performance by Mark Smith."

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