by Siam Goorwich
Forget obscure foreign language films with too fast subtitles, mind-numbing documentaries about far away places, or anything with a title you can’t pronounce. If you really want to see something genuinely different, thought-provoking and utterly fantastic, Mission to Lars is the film for you.
Mission to Lars is a free camera documentary, meets a classic American road trip, with a double shot of real intimate love and emotion, and a good helping of humour. The film follows three siblings; Tom, Kate, and Will Spicer. Whilst journo Kate and filmmaker Will are busy living busy lives in busy London, their older brother Tom is not. Tom has Fragile X syndrome, a severe form of Autism, and lives in a care home in the country, patiently making it through each day in a safe monotonous bubble. In an effort to make up for lost time with some extreme family bonding, Kate and Will decide to break Tom out of this bubble for a once in a life trip to go and meet his all-time hero, Metallica drummer, Lars Ulrich.
So, first things first. No, you don’t need to know anything about Fragile X syndrome, or be a fan of Lars Ulrich to watch or enjoy the film. Anyone with hopes, dreams, fears or siblings will relate to the tensions and emotions, not to mention the compromises made to maintain the delicate equilibrium of sibling peace and harmony, on screen. I definitely did. I related to Kate’s frustration of not knowing how to push someone you love past their fears to achieve something that would ultimately bring them great joy. I related to Will getting in a strop because he thought Kate was being bossy and controlling, when it was really just that they were all stressed and tired and had been together in a confined space for too long. Most of all I related to Tom. I related to his fear of taking the leap and stepping wildly out of his comfort zone, and how his fear held him back from achieving something he’d dreamt of for so many years.
Mission to Lars is moving; not in a guilt tripy comic relief make-a-donation, or an uncontrollably sobbing into your popcorn kinda way. Just in that thought-provoking way, when you get to share in something intense and beautiful and personal and you realise there’s more to life than being busy and important and self-obsessed. It’s a cliché to say that when someone has an illness that’s all people see, but it’s often true. Mission to Lars manages to strip off the shield of disability and show you the person underneath. Whereas at the beginning of the film it’s easy to feel sorry for Tom living life in his care home bubble, by the end you see that this sympathy is misplaced; he has a life, is living a life – it may not be your life, or Kate or Will’s lives, but really, where’s the sadness in that?
So quick, find a screening near you (and I mean quick, there are only a handful left). Maybe take a date, and impress them with your urbane cinematic tastes. It made me break my all-time cinema going rule; I clapped at the end. You should definitely go and clap too.
Head to www.missiontolars.com for more info and to find your nearest screening. See below for the trailer.