Writer/director Cristian Solemino’s thriller The Glass Man premiered at London’s FrightFest film festival 11 years ago to great acclaim, but then was tangled up in rights issues. Shot in 2009 during the credit crunch, the film is finally available in the United Kingdom, still timely — if not even more so than when it was made — and delivers a riveting story with some top-notch performances.
Andy Nyman (cowriter, codirector, and star of 2017’s Ghost Stories) gives a magnificent turn as Martin Pyrite, a businessman who we soon learn is hiding the fact that he was fired from his job from his wife Julie (Neve Campbell). His credit is shot and his bank account is down to pocket change, yet he still tries to keep up the appearance with her of being successfully employed, pretending to go to work every day. Going to his old job to complain about the bad reference they gave him, he is treated as persona non grata and humiliated by his former boss.
Things get worse as Julie suspects that he is having an affair, and after she takes some sleeping pills for the night, a gruff, violent loan shark (James Cosmo as Pecco) comes calling, demanding money owed to him be paid immediately — unless Martin agrees to be his right-hand man for the night and do whatever is asked of him, no questions answered. Pecco assures him things will get ugly, and indeed they do, as Martin has little choice but to take him up on his offer.
The Glass Man addresses the issues of mental illness and being driven to desperation by debt, and the one-two punch of Nyman as a meek, frightened, polite — even when being mugged or threatened — doormat and Cosmo (Citadel ) as a brutish force of nature is tremendous. The two actors play off of each other marvelously, Nyman with his sometimes barely perceptible but always effective facial expressions and Cosmo with his edgy, threatening demeanor. Campbell’s role is small and her character not highly developed but she does nicely with her limited screen time.
Solemino, who also appears as Martin’s longtime friend and successful actor Toby Huxley, does a fine job of unraveling the suspense as Martin’s descent into danger and lower psychological depths increase. The Glass Man may hit some familiar notes at times, but overall it is a tense chiller that comes recommended, especially for the acting clinic given by Nyman and Cosmo.
The Glass Man is available on digital download in the United Kingdom from December 7, 2020. For more information, visit https://smarturl.it/theglassman.