Mr. Barrington is a dramatic thriller directed by Dana Packard, starring Jennifer Nichole Porter, Brian McCardieand Eric Schweig. The film centers around the lives of Lila, an acutely agoraphobic poet going through a bout of writer’s block, and her husband, Samuel, who is only vaguely aware of his wife’s psychological troubles. When Lila hears a noise coming from her front porch one morning, her subsequent investigation reveals Mr. Barrington, a charming and oddly familiar man atop an old-fashioned bicycle. Lila becomes obsessed with Mr. Barrington’s increasingly surreal visits, and her mental health deteriorates even further. Unable to continue ignoring Lila’s problems, Samuel pays a visit to the dreary orphanage where Lila was raised as a child. Once there, the convent director reluctantly reveals a shocking piece of history.
Mr. Barrington is a strange, touching and very personal film that I found very interesting. The three main actors are truly excellent. My only downside about this is that Jennifer Nichole Porter is playing so well the child inside of her character that it removes almost completely the real woman on the screen. She speaks, moves and reacts just like a frightened child of 10 years.
Consequently, even if Eric Schweig is perfect in the role of the tender and loving husband, one really wonders where is this woman he loves so much in the film. All expressions of affection between the spouses are also deliberately deprived of any sensuality during the film, as if the director wanted to make sure that we see the wounded and vulnerable child in Lila’s adult body. The process is so extreme that the marital relationship between Lila and Samuel appeared to me very unlikely. The “woman Lila” appears to us only at the end of the film, when she finally tells Samuel the drama of her childhood.
Besides the two main characters (Lila and Mr. Barrington) that are particularly cryptic and intense, the character played by Eric Schweig appears quite realistic. Samuel is a carpenter and worked in a small sawmill, where other workers despise him. Perhaps because of his artistic talent? Samuel has a passion for drawing. During his breaks, he drew Lila’s face endlessly in his sketchbook, as if he was trying to penetrate the secrets of his wife’s thoughts through each pencil stroke. Poor Samuel, he is very lonely between his wife who is lost in her imaginary world, and his colleagues who ostracize him.
Samuel is a sweet and gentle giant, full of compassion, carefully holding a wounded bird in his hand (by the way, the credits of the film begins on an old engraving of St. Francis of Assisi surrounded by birds…). Samuel tries to understand the mental trouble of his wife with all his love, without ever losing contact with reality, but also without escaping a deep sadness in front of the growing pain of Lila. The kind of deep sadness Eric Schweig excels particularly well to express in his films. But rest assured, Samuel’s steadfast love for Lila overcomes Mr. Barrington…
Director: Dana Packard
Writer: Jennifer Nichole Porter
Stars: Jennifer Nichole Porter, Eric Schweig and Brian McCardie