This is a recreation of a series of interviews done over about a year with Chris, a man with a violent, dangerous past who, now with wife and child, talks about his regret for the pain he ... See full summary »





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Leo Regan ...


This is a recreation of a series of interviews done over about a year with Chris, a man with a violent, dangerous past who, now with wife and child, talks about his regret for the pain he has caused to his victims, how his personality was molded by his violent father, and his fears for his young son. Written by kbarrillea

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3 July 2006 (UK)  »

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Totally compelling with utterly convincing delivery from Isaacs
18 December 2006 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

When director Leo Regan first met Chris he found the man to be enigmatic but violent and angry and personal questions were met with "f**k off". A few years later he met Chris again and found he had changed; he had moved to the country, gotten married and become a father. This reformed Chris agreed to tell his story to Leo under the understanding that if Chris or his family got hurt then Leo would get hurt. He talks to him about his days of violence and his formative days with his family.

Despite not being overly taken by Regan's work on Comfortably Numb, I decided to give this film a try since I had found his mix of reality and acting on that film interesting at least. With Scars the focus is tighter as it is essentially no more than recreations of a series of interviews with a man who has moved beyond his violent past and is now talking about it. It sounds simple and perhaps offers limited interest but it is actually fascinating. It is so because it offers an insight into a world of sudden and brutal violence that few of us will hopefully ever experience. We all know people in pubs who look for fights and will "glass people" over nothing, Chris is one of them – someone you just want to get away from. However by listening from the safety of your living room it is easy to focus on him without the fear but yet the film is still chilling, disturbing and upsetting. Some viewers have argued over the point of the film (it isn't a fun night in) but it is valuable to see such a person open up about their acts and talk to the point where you begin to understand parts of his character.

This is not to suggest that the film does anything as crass as delivering excuses or causes for who he is, because it doesn't, or at least not in this way. Instead it just allows this person to talk and in doing so it builds a picture that equally shows the excitement and power or violence as much as it does the pain and regret to everyone involved. It is compelling although it is hard to watch at times. Because this is a re-enactment, the delivery of the lines is key because one would assume that it would never be as convincing as the real person talking themselves. However, if this is the case then Isaacs gets as close as possible. He is tremendous here. I was watching this at the same time as taping "The State Within" in which he also stars and it is to his credit that he made both in the same year but yet one is unrecognisable when put alongside the other. At no point does he step out of his character and his delivery is true – he manages to mix regret with excitement, to align these contrasting emotions to maintain a complex character that is utterly convincing.

Overall then, a difficult film to watch (and find) but one that is fascinating. There is no story but it makes for an insightful character study of a violent man who is superficially just a thug but has reaching a point of hurt and regret and is struggling to really cope with it. Regan is at his best when he stays out of the way and just lets Isaacs deliver his powerful and convincing performance – which is the heart of this compelling film.

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