Throughout the years in film there have been numerous representations of characters suffering from mental illnesses: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Rain Man, Girl, Interrupted and Black Swan to name a few. The majority of the time we watch these characters struggle to cope with the reality around them but rarely do we see those individuals strive to gain back some sense of normalcy and overcome. In his feature directorial debut director Luke Eve brings us along on a journey of a young man fighting himself to take back his life in I Met a Girl. The film focuses on Devon, played by Brenton Thwaits (Titans, Maleficent), who suffers from a type of schizophrenia and after an incident at his brother’s wedding is committed to a mental institution for five years. Upon his release, Devon stays with his brother and newly expecting sister in law trying to figure out what to do next.
The film takes a mysterious turn though after Devon meets Lucy, played by Lily Sullivan (Barkskins), a woman who helped Devon after a failed suicide attempt. The two share a very touching and intimate moment as they get to know each other but when Devon tries to introduce her to his brother the elusive Lucy has disappeared. Akin to films like Vanilla Sky and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind you do not know what is true or false as we see everything through Devon’s eyes. Devon is constantly split between two entities, his protector Mr. Rock and the sinister Miss Needles. They can pop up at anytime and in the case of Miss Needles can send Devon down a very dark path. Obsessed over his love for Lucy, Devon sets off on a cross country trip to Sydney to find his one and only “Lucy in the sky with diamonds”.
What follows is a road trip film essentially putting Devon in different situations as he fights his way to Lucy. What adds an extra quirk is Devon’s care free attitude and ability to make the most out of any ordeal even if it goes horribly wrong. You wouldn’t be able to put much stock in this film if it were not for Thwaits’ performance as the very fragile Devon. His youthful exuberance and child like demeanor make him an extremely likeable character and when he has one of his “fits” you feel nothing but sorrow for this tormented soul. We also get a full range of Devon’s disorders where besides the two voices inside his head he also seems attuned to all life and energy around him making him very sensitive to all that surrounds him. The focus though is not solely on Devon as we watch the effects it has on his family and more importantly his brother Nick, played by Joel Jackson (Jungle). As much as Devon suffers to maintain a stable mindset it is Nick that struggles even more in trying to care for his brother and balance his marriage with a new born on the way. The love and pain Nick goes through is extremely heartfelt as he wants nothing but the best for his brother even if that means going at odds with his wife.
This film slowly wraps around you like a comfy blanket as it progresses. The relationships established with Devon all feel genuine and wholesome; another attribute of Thwaits’ performance as he naturally feels like a good hearted stranger you wouldn’t mind running into. Along with his love story with Lucy, the brother dynamic with Nick and his numerous encounters you can’t help but fall in love with Devon; a true redemption story.
3 out of 5
The film is available now via streaming platforms