Great, now I’m completely bummed out. Here I thought I was going to see a psychological thriller, but instead got a thoroughly depressing drama about mental illness. Not that this is a bad thing. In fact, this is a great film. I was just expecting to be thrilled, not kicked in the balls for 90 minutes. Oh well, I can deal with it. I’m usually depressed because I saw a bad film, so this is fine.
“Revolution #9” gives a straight up and eerily realistic illustration of how any of us can just snap at any time. All it can take is just a little trigger – maybe you lost your job, maybe you got a promotion, maybe someone stole your car, maybe you just bought a new car, maybe someone farted on the bus – whatever it is, it just takes that little thing to set us off, so that we’re spending the rest of our lives chewing meds and wandering the halls of mental institutions. For Jackson, it’s not until he and his girlfriend, Kim, announce to her parents their plans to get married, that he begins suffering from paranoid schizophrenic episodes. These episodes are minor at first – Jackson is suspect of people moving things around on his desk – until they finally take over his entire life with Jackson believing that he’s the victim of some sort of multi-media conspiracy.
The first half of “Revolution #9” is the psychological thriller I was expecting. We watch Jackson rapidly crack as he tries to figure out who it is that’s after him. His paranoid attacks get him fired from his job, seriously damage his relationship with his fiancé and ultimately send him on a quest to find the director (played by Spalding Gray) of a perfume commercial, which he believes contains a hidden message meant only for him.
The second half of this film slows down a bit as Kim tries desperately to get Jackson the help he needs, but is reluctant to receive. This is when the thriller stops and the fascinating, but sad story, of how our mental health system works, begins. There’s no dolling up the subject matter. In dealing with this material, you get the feeling that the filmmakers did their homework and that they’re here to represent a harsh reality, all bullshit aside.
Excellent performances from the entire cast, especially Michael Risley as the mentally ill Jackson. Be sure to keep your eyes on this guy in the coming years. Meanwhile, check out “Revolution #9,” it’s an experience that will stay with you for a while.