Not every stage play can or should be adapted into a film. If so perhaps it should at least be script-doctored for the screen and placed into the hand of a director with the skill to render it silver screen ready. It doesn’t appear that any of this happened with The Man on Her Mind. While admittedly the synopsis of this film seemed a tad enticing, this stage-to-film rendering fails utterly after one is forced to endure this production for 97 monotonous minutes, along with not more than 15 other under-stimulated film enthusiasts.
The Man on Her Mind is a newly released indie film adapted from the 2012 London stage play of the same name. The play was penned by Alan Hruska, as was the screenplay. Herein may have been the crux of the problem. Not every playwright knows how to properly market and adapt for the screen. Often times a stage play is handed off to a seasoned screenwriter to fashion it for the screen. While Hruska has indeed penned three other scripts for the screen this does not mean he knew how to properly manage and transition The Man on Her Mind into palatable art for the screen. He has missed his mark terribly.
The Man on Her Mind is the tale of two slightly off-centered souls (Nellie and Leonard) who have consciously decided to live their lives via imaginary fantasy partners. Centered mostly around the protagonist Nellie (Amy McAllister of Philomena), The Man on Her Mind is extremely heavy on dialogue that tries its best to be witty and engaging, but falls painfully short and is instead rendered grating, pretentious and monotonous. This monotony rears its head early on in the film and envelopes you for the entire length of the production, courtesy of the screenwriter who is also the director (Hruska) and Bruce Guthrie, a first time co-director in collaboration with Hruska. Two inexperienced directors working in a co-director capacity. A sure recipe for a cinematic disaster which was indeed what The Man on Her Mind turned out to be.
As it turns out the two lonely souls come to realize that their imaginary partners are each other, which opens the door for them to surrender to the possibilities of a real life partnership. Here lies the possibility for the monotony of the production to take a turn and it does for about 15 minutes. But Hruska drops the ball and flips the script just when he is gaining the attention of his audience. Ironically, the secondary players in the production (Nellie’s sister Janet and her husband) have a relationship scenario that is rendered far more engaging than Nellie and Leonard. When the audience loses focus of the two featured characters the production has surely gone awry.
This film possessed promise on so many levels but simply could not deliver. The four main players were all extraordinary actors who were reduced to dumbing-down their performances via a Dr. Seuss-like delivery of dialogue that may have worked well on the London stage but was highly ineffective and exhausting for viewers of the big screen.
The Man on Her Mind was monumentally flawed and a tedious watch. Blame it on the screenwriter and the director. Looking forward to seeing Amy McAllister in a production that better showcases her talent. The Man on Her Mind is in limited release in selected theaters.
By Janet Walters Levite