Published Mar 14, 2013Almost. Blood Pressure is almost an unsettling psychological thriller, almost a bizarre romance and almost a triumphant double-edged examination of empowerment. Canadian writer/director Sean Garrity's latest is so close to hitting its marks that it's almost painful.
It's a premise rife with potential: a freshly over-the-hill mother of two who feels neglected at home and unfulfilled at work begins receiving anonymous letters that display an intimate knowledge of her life and understanding of her feelings. There is nothing sexual about the letters; they take a friendly, appreciative tone that obscures any potentially sinister implications in the eyes of their desperate recipient.
Nicole (Michelle Giroux) is lonely, bored and unhappy. She craves adventure (demonstrated by her constant perusal of Mexican getaway packages), a change in routine, anything to shake her out of her depressive rut. The letters, signed "A Friend," require her active participation in order to continue, preying upon her need to feel special — a quality missing from her life due to a lack of self-confidence.
Initially just designed to bolster her ego, the mysterious, supportive missives and gifts gradually begin to request that Nicole engage in increasingly suspicious acts. Strangely, Blood Pressure feels most like a low-key Canadian drama version of Wanted (the shitty film version, not the excellent comic). There is (thankfully) no bullet bending or pointless sex and violence, but the core act of pushing a miserable, spineless drone to find a sense of purpose via their groundless sense of entitlement is the same.
It's kind of sad that some people are so dependent upon the connection with and approval of others that they can't take the impetus to discover their own interests. Existence is so rich in information, possibilities and mystery that it should take quite possibly endless spin cycles in the reincarnation washing machine to truly exhaust everything one could want to investigate or accomplish. But some simply lack drive or desire, choosing death, or life, as a husk.
Capably shot and acted, Blood Pressure nearly finds a way to satisfactorily explore these issues, but there's something about its cool, clinical presentation and underdeveloped subplot about how Nicole's second life begins to reflect the neglect she feels back with her family that doesn't quite allow its themes to fully blossom.
A noble shot, Mr. Garrity, but not quite on target. (Flying Horse)