On the Edge

Directed by: John Carney
Distributed by: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Written by Livvy O’Brien  


John Carney’s “On the Edge” is an unconventional coming-of-age drama that is emotionally charged and authentic. It delves into the turbulent psyche of 19-year-old Jonathan Breech (Cillian Murphy) who ends up in a psychiatric ward after stealing a car and impulsively driving it off a cliff following his father’s funeral. Jonathan survives the crash, merely breaking his baby finger, and is offered an ultimatum between jail time or three months in the psychiatric ward—he chooses the latter. 

As the viewer, it’s tough to warm up to Jonathan at first. He has mastered the art of hiding his true self and has put up a facade that is overly cocky, witty, angsty and sarcastic. However, as the film progresses, Jonathan’s genuine character is revealed to be easy-going and good-natured. “Bittersweet” best describes the overall tone of this film. It’s tragic and rewarding. Carney is a brilliant storyteller as he has the ability to elicit a palpable sense of emotional sincerity that lingers long after the credits roll. His cinematography creates a melancholic atmosphere that translates into an unfeigned quality of relatability on screen and Carney balances the film in such a way, so that it doesn’t weigh it down with heavy monologues about sadness and despair. Given that it is about suicidal teens in a psychiatric ward, there are untroubled moments that are feel-good, like when Jonathan and Toby (Jonathan Jackson) sneak out to go to pubs in the middle of the night and end up having to run away from a couple of guys that they pissed off while “Alright” by Supergrass is playing. Speaking of the soundtrack, within the first 10 minutes of the film, “1979” by The Smashing Pumpkins, “Start!” by The Jam, “La Valse” by Ernest Ansermet and “Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer” by Gene Autry is played. It sounds chaotic but it works perfectly as it switches between diegetic and non-diegetic music seamlessly.  

It’s impossible to discuss this film without mentioning Cillian Murphy. His performance as Jonathan is nothing short of amazing. Murphy captures the character’s vulnerability, anguish and eventual transformation with remarkable depth. His ability to communicate complex emotions through subtle gestures and expressions demonstrates his brilliance as an actor. With his magnetic presence and skillful portrayal of complex emotions, Murphy elevates the film to new heights. His performance is a shining example of the power and artistry of acting, making “On the Edge” a must-see for any admirer of his work.

“On the Edge” Trailer

You can follow Livvy O’Brien on Letterboxd.

Leave a ReplyCancel reply