‘Lost Transmissions’ review: Simon Pegg’s downtempo look at music and mental illness

An LA-based music producer struggles with schizophrenia – and his young collaborator must pick up the pieces

Networking is useful whatever industry you’re in, but who knew it could save your life? Music producer Theo Ross (Simon Pegg) is entertaining friends when he connects – and subsequently strikes up a friendship – with aspiring musician Hannah (Juno Temple). Later, he helps her start a recording career, while she proves invaluable support as he tackles increasingly severe mental health problems – namely schizophrenia, brought on by one dodgy pill after years of recreational drug use.

Lost Transmissions
Juno Temple plays an aspiring musician who strikes up a friendship with Simon Pegg’s Theo. Credit: Alamy

Using Theo’s life as a conduit, Lost Transmissions exposes the failings of the US healthcare system – which lacks the required nuances in its approach, and prevents people like Theo from receiving the care they need. He won’t take his pills, and Hannah has to explain why he must – while still taking her own anti-depressants. On paper, the connection between the pair makes sense, but in practice their chemistry evaporates quickly as the story goes on. The film certainly makes a case for Pegg’s dramatic chops – he’s belligerent, conceited, vulnerable and scared all at once – but Temple, although she never gives up, is unconvincing as Theo’s friend-turned-carer. Hannah has her own issues, and by chasing after Theo she isn’t always given the time to look after herself. In the end, Temple struggles to convey why her character would be able, or want, to take care of anyone else.

Another issue is the soundtrack. For a film that claims to be defined by the power of music, the tunes in Lost Transmissions are often forgettable. Hannah oddly whispers lyrics when she’s on her own, and Theo’s supposedly famous body of work is nowhere to be seen. The lack of attention to detail comes from a script which is more interested in its political message than in believable world-building.

Lost Transmissions
Alexandra Daddario also stars in the new indie drama. Credit: Alamy

There’s no problem with advocating for a real-life cause, but the film’s message often takes precedence over the performances and the narrative. Lost Transmissions is at its best when dissecting the pain felt by many real life people, some of whom may be watching at home, feeling just as frustrated as Theo.

Details

  • Director: Katharine O’Brien
  • Starring: Simon Pegg, Juno Temple, Alexandra Daddario
  • Release date: June 29 (Digital)
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