FilmReview

Review: ‘Lonely Boy’ Explores Mental Illness in a Brave and Powerful Way

Maddie Crichton ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Alev Aydin in Lonely Boy. Photo Credit: Exit43 Productions.
Alev Aydin in Lonely Boy. Photo Credit: Exit43 Productions.

With an effortless combination of light-hearted and heartbreaking drama, Lonely Boy tells a story of mental illness in a way most films never dare to try.

Directed by Dale Fabrigar, the film follows the life of Franky (Alev Aydin) and his day-to-day struggles with schizophrenia. Though Franky feels lonely, he is almost never alone, as a man called Jay (Greg Vrotsos) and his two children follow Franky’s every move. The three ruin his daily routines, and prevent him from having successful interactions with other human beings. The biggest problem, however, is that Franky is the only one who can see them.

Franky knows that he is the only one who can see them, and he knows that they do not really exist, but despite any of his efforts he cannot get rid of them. He loses his job, stops taking his medication, and his life is heading in the wrong direction. His loving sister Betsy (Melora Walters) tries her best to help him, but to hardly any response from her younger brother. The only times things every really look up for the protagonist is when he encounters Alex, (Natalie Distler) an enigmatic, free-spirited girl who wants to give him a chance.

Alev Aydin and Natalie Distler in Lonely Boy. Photo Credit: Exit43 Productions.
Alev Aydin and Natalie Distler in Lonely Boy. Photo Credit: Exit43 Productions.

We spend most of the film seeing life through Franky’s eyes, brilliantly developing his character and demonstrating his challenges. We see how frustrated, isolated, and truly lonely he is. Lonely Boy never sugarcoats mental illness; rather it shows it in its most honest and trying moments. It never makes mental illness charming; instead the film shows that Franky himself can be charming without attaching the trait to his schizophrenia.

Lonely Boy starts off light and progressively gets darker, giving viewers a chance to understand Franky and adjust to the serious plot and tone of the film. While the film is heavy for the most part, it adds touches of humor here and there, preventing the audience from drowning in sadness. Aydin does an excellent job playing off of both of these angles, adding layers and showing the many sides to Franky. He masters the quick witty moments, the complicated interactions with women, and the emotional, gut-wrenching scenes that make this film so powerful.

Natalie Distler and Alev Aydin in Lonely Boy. Photo Credit: Exit43 Productions.
Natalie Distler and Alev Aydin in Lonely Boy. Photo Credit: Exit43 Productions.

Walters also delivers a strong performance, showing the true desperation Betsy feels. Her enactment is so captivating and often times relatable that it even makes us want to reach in and console her.

Another standout aspect was the beautiful cinematography by Patrick Meade Jones. It was simple yet endearing, and gave life to the story’s underlying theme of a harsh reality. Void of anything flashy and unrealistic, it helps the movie become honest and sincerely believable. The film also has a series of cuts between the world the way Franky sees it, and the way everyone else does, allowing the film to take risks and play with Franky’s unique situation.

Lonely Boy is thought provoking and eye opening. Viewers will finish the movie with a very different mindset from when the film started. Without even trying to be, it is one of the bravest films of its kind, making it a must-see.

Lonely Boy is available to own now at lonelyboyfilm.com.

Overall Grade: A

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3 Comments

  1. I just finished watching this and I’m dying to know/figure out if Alex was real, or if she was one of his personalities he saw.

    1. I’m thinking that she was real…or at least I’m hoping so. The expressions of everyone else seemed to confirm she was real

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