REVIEW: Mad To Be Normal - David Tennant's Intense Performance Will Have You Falling For Laing's Charismatic Charms
The David Tennant led R.D Laing biopic, Mad To Be Normal, had its premiere screening at last night's Glasgow Film Festival Closing Gala and it's a must see for fans of David as he puts in what we consider to be one of the finest performances of his career so far.
The film, written and directed by Robert Mullan, tells the story of the radical Scottish psychologist R.D.Laing. Set in the 1960s it focuses on the five year experiment created by Laing and his unique community at Kingsley Hall in East London where patients and therapists lived together. He was often criticised for his techniques, which included the use of the drug LSD, but which also saw no treatment given at all to patients who did not want it.
Laing himself is a difficult character. You don't know whether to love him or loathe him as he goes from being a charismatic idol, adored by those who hero worshiped him and his practices, to an arrogant and insensitive, mean and ruthless man to those closest to him, including his estranged family in Glasgow.
David Tennant plays the role with an intensity that means you can't help but fall for Laing's charms. Your eyes will never leave the screen as he puts in a beguiling and multi layered performance of a man that he admits he has always wanted to tackle as an actor. And it's evident that he's under the skin of the man himself in this role.
And it's not just David Tennant who shines as he's supported by a stunning cast including the wonderful Elisabeth Moss as Laing's besotted student turned lover Angie who finds she may have taken on more than she can handle with him and is left disappointed and hurt when she expects him to step up and support her as she faces a life changing predicament.
Acting royalty Michael Gambon is also on fine form as Sydney, an elderly patient at Kingsley Hall persuaded by Laing to use LSD to access repressed memories and Gabriel Byrne is engaging as the endearing but troubled Jim.
From the very beginning Mad To Be Normal is all absorbing and oozes class. It's filmed in muted tones, and has a smokey, hazy atmosphere that captures the essence of the period perfectly with a cracking soundtrack that includes The Kinks and Donovan.
It is a memorable and at times very moving piece that leaves you wowed by David Tennant's overwhelming screen presence.
Mad To Be Normal is released in UK cinemas on 6th April.