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The film's central character, Ray (Daniel Craig), has schizophrenia. The story begins with Ray's discharge from psychiatric hospital. Ray's devoted brother Pete (David Morrissey) picks him up and drives Ray to his new abode, the spare room in Pete's West London flat. Pete is a chef who works long hours in the café (a traditional 'greasy spoon' during the day and a trendy eatery in the evening) that he inherited from his father. He now has to find the time to take care of Ray and monitor the medication that controls the voices in his head. Ray is an intelligent, out-going young man. He soon falls for Laura (Kelly Macdonald), a Glaswegian girl in the midst of breaking up with her abusive boyfriend (Peter McDonald). Laura becomes attracted to Ray because of his spontaneity and his childlike sense of fun. Around this time, Pete also becomes involved in a relationship with Mandy (Julie Graham). As Ray's relationship blossoms, he begins to resent taking his pills, preferring to trust in the...Written by
54-56 Was My Number
Written by Toots Hibbert
Used by kind permission of Universal Music Publishing LTD
Performed by Toots & The Maytals (as Toots and the Maytals)
® 1970 Licenced courtesy of Trojan Records LTD See more »
Ray is a schizophrenic who has been released form care back to his brother. He is on his medication and he is fine enjoying life but wandering a lot. He meets a girl, Laura when she and her boyfriend are having a fight in the street. At first she dislikes him but the more he tries to get to know her the more she gives in to him. The pair go off to Hastings for a while and fall for each other despite the worries of Ray's brother Dave.
I taped as it was billed as a comedy and I thought I'd give it a go. To call it a comedy is to not even tell half the story. It is funny in many places and has an enjoyable light air to most of it, but it is so much more than just another romantic `boy meets girl' British comedy. It is actually a sensitive look at mental illness through our view of Ray. He is allowed to be a person rather than a stereotype and as a result we care more about the plot but also sympathise with all the characters a lot more.
It hurt me to see Ray struggling when not on his meds. He is a real person and just struggling in this way. In real life I may have been in the street bemused by him rather than interesting in finding out who was behind the illness. Also when Dave is worried about him and feels he can't trust him, we side with Ray and see Ray's point, whereas in real life many of us would have our doubts just like Dave. This doesn't mean it's perfect as the plot has weaknesses. The romance in the centre doesn't always ring true and the climax, although dramatic, is an extreme for dramatic effect, but overall it works.
This is mainly due to a good strong script with real characters as well as good acting all round. Craig is really good as Ray I never doubted him for a second and his portrayal is never lazy cliché for a second. McDonald's Dave is a less sympathetic figure but well acted and Macdonald's Laura is good once we are over the way she is very easily won over by Ray. The direction is really good and avoids being arty in it's use of images. I don't know what it's like to see things an hear things like Ray is, but here it is brought to the screen as well and as tastefully as could be expected.
Overall this is a comedy and can be enjoyed as such for at least half the film. But more than this the film goes deeper and is a wonderful look at schizophrenia without going into detail but rather giving us a real character and even helping `normal' (read `ignorant') people like me understand what it's like for people like Ray.
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