Yesterday evening, I got out of work feeling very excited about the weekend of movie watching ahead of me. The sun was shining, the crowds were milling and everything seemed a bit jolly.

 I wandered over at my leisure to the Cineworld at Fountainbridge, in order to watch Ollie Kepler’s Expanding Purple World (after a brief stop in Tea Tree Tea, my pick of the festival for delicious and unusual drinks, hot or cold). Ollie Kepler  is Viv Fongenie’s second feature film, and stars Edward Hogg of Bunny and the Bull fame and Jodie Whitaker, who wowed us all a couple of years ago in Venus, but has since kept a relatively low profile.

The programme didn’t give much a way except that it was independently-produced, and featured a geek, Ollie, in love with a beautiful girl, Noreen. I must say that, with the recent raft of awkward indie pictures with not-quite love stories, I was expecting something in the same vein. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

 Ollie Kepler’s Expanding Purple World is in fact quite a dark story of mental illness and loss, charting one man’s breakdown following the death of his fiancée.  This breakdown and our experience of it is enhanced by clever editing, claustrophobic camerawork and Hogg’s performance. The unease that runs throughout the film is very well managed and several scenes had me actively squirming in my seat, however, it seems like the film doesn’t take it far enough at points.

The story starts strongly and builds well, so that by the time Noreen is killed suddenly by a blood clot, we really feel for the characters, and yet, it is this steady progression of narrative that is the film’s weakest point. Hogg’s character has a background in astrophysics, is writing a book on string theory and is undergoing some serious mental trauma but his story is told in a simple chronological narrative.  I wouldn’t claim that every film tackling mental illness should automatically slot into the expanding category of non-linear narrative films, however, I feel that Fongenie could have done something more interesting with the structure, that more accurately expressed the Ollie’s collapsing (or rather, expanding) world.

Recent films like Harmony Korine’s Juien Donkey-boy in 1999, Christopher Nolan’s Memento and even Fight Club show us how the medium of film can be used to explore trauma, mental breakdown and loss, and sadly, Ollie Kepler’s Expanding Purple World does not quite live up to its predecessors.