Film Review – Lost Transmissions (2019)

The well used saying  “never judge a book by it’s cover” is probably the greatest  used saying in so many situations including people. In our daily lives we’re sometimes too quick to judge people, thinking we know everything about them from one action or what they said.  Mental Health is an invisible illness that’s on the rise globally and the current pandemic isn’t helping matters either. You don’t know  who is suffering or experienced illness. Those who need help should never be forgotten and in Katharine O’Brien‘s Lost Transmissions is the call for the forgotten to get the help they truly deserve.

The film stars Juno Temple, Simon Pegg along with Alexandria Daddario .

Lost Transmissions starts at a house party  in Los Angeles, Hannah (Temple), nervously sits next to Theo (Pegg) at a piano. Theo asks her to sing a song and she does despite her nerves. He can see Hannah has a talent and arranges for her to come to his studio to work on some songs.

The pair hit off  start a friendship and a creative partnership that just blossoms. Just when things start to look up for Hannah, Theo goes off the rails. From Those close to Theo Hannah learns he’s Schizophrenic and he’s becoming more deluded, paranoid when he goes off his medication. After seeing  him get very distant talking about secret messages transmitted through radio static, she calls for help.

As Theo’s health declines even more and he alienates everyone close to him including Hannah. With this she becomes determined to stick by her mentor and friend even if it means sacrificing her own career. She becomes more focused on getting him the treatment he deserves, first  she must find him on the streets of Los Angeles.

Lost Transmissions is no easy watch watch. The core of the film highlights  the failures of the American Mental Health Care system. Sadly the USA is slowly becoming a bit of an ‘expert’ at systematic failures. Stateside if you have a mental illness you have to volunteer unlike here in the UK it’s involuntary. That doesn’t mean here the level of care is any better, if anything Mental Health care is lacking here too.

Lost Transmissions doesn’t vilify the illness nor romanticize  it either as a vehicle  for Theo’s talents. What the film does do is highlight the unpredictability of illness, the uphill battle family and loved ones go through . Changes must be made.

The film’s story is  very personal to the director. Pegg’s character is inspired by a dear friend of Katharine O’Brien. He is Schizophrenic  who suffered but seems to be OK now becoming a wealth of inspiration to Pegg. The actor himself also opened up that he suffered from depression as well as alcoholism when he was younger. Simon Pegg is superb as Theo who encaptures Schizophrenia with a nuanced humble  heart never glamorizes the illness.

Juno Temple is fantastic as a Hannah embodying she also suffered from mental illness, that’s made her fragile person in need of confidence which Theo gives her. Her relationship with Theo is platonic and she really cares for him and Temple and Pegg’s relationship feels believable. The film doesn’t fully answer why she invests so much time in someone she’s only known for a small time? That might be a deliberate move .

Lost Transmissions has plenty of heart and sensitivity , understands, respects it’s subject matter with respect.  With Captain Chaos in The White House boasting about building walls, this film asks him to bring down one of those walls. Give a helping hand to Mental Health Care.


Drama | USA,2019 | 15 | Digital | 29th June 2020 (UK) | 101 Films | Dir.Katharine O’Brien | Simon Pegg, Juno Temple, Alexandra Daddario, Rebecca Hazlewood

originally posted At The Peoples Movies | 14th July 2020

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