Director Cristian Solimeno will be releasing his psychological thriller The Glass Man on 7th December, 10 years after its creation. He maintains that the film’s themes of recession, job loss, mental crisis and toxic masculinity are more important than ever.
Shot in 2009 during the credit crunch, The Glass Man follows Martin Pyrite, a suit clad middle class businessman who has the beautiful car, the beautiful wife and the beautiful home. His identity as ‘successful breadwinner’ is shattered when he is dismissed from work, leaving him struggling to pay for his lifestyle. His frantic attempts to maintain the illusion that everything is okay, leads him into desperate trouble when a loanshark, shows up at his house to collect Martin’s debts. We find that there is no depth Martin won’t sink to in order to hold on to what he’s got. Focussing on an outwardly mild, middle class character makes The Glass Man a novel and even a decade later, timely take on masculinity and repressed rage.
Cristian says “I wanted to explore that problematic masculinity in a different way because honestly, I think it’s a universal problem. Right then, it seemed like actually it was the men in suits who were really the ones taking huge risks at the wheel of society and crashing it for all of us. I set this story against the backdrop of the credit crunch which was happening at the time, but I’d never have guessed that 10 years on, economically, we’d be right back there.”
This Christmas, statistics show that the country will find itself in a worse financial situation than the 2008 crash when The Glass Man was filmed (Channel 4). There are currently 1.62 million people unemployed, which the ONS predicts will rise to 2.6 million by the middle of 2021. This accompanies worrying trends in male suicide, which reached a two decade high in England and Wales this year (ONS). Men aged 45-49 are at the highest risk, and whilst we can’t directly link this to Coronavirus and redundancy, The Samaritans said, ‘callers have been worried about losing their job and/or business and their finances, with common themes around not being able to pay rent/mortgage, inability to support the family, and fear of homelessness.’
Cristian has very personal experiences of depression and how gaining and losing the status that goes with a high profile job can toy with you mentally. After early career success as the ultimate toxic alpha male, Jason Turner in Footballers’ Wives, Cristian later found himself in a long period without acting work, with nowhere to live. He was battling for the rights to get The Glass Man back after making a bad deal, and was sofa surfing in order to have a roof over his head. A bad breakup and the death of two good friends in quick succession took him to the edge. He says, “It was really touch and go for while there. For a good couple of years, it was purely the kindness and incredible generosity of friends and family that stopped me slipping through the cracks. I gave up on myself for a while to be honest but other people didn’t give up on me. If it wasn’t for them, I really don’t know what would have happened.”
Once he was back on his feet, he turned his attentions to directing another film about male mental health. Earlier in 2020, after several years of work, he released this feature film called I Made This For You, which followed a group of friends, attempting to convince one of their own not to end his life. The film was dedicated to Billy Yates, one of the film’s stars and also Cristian’s close friend who tragically took his own life during post production. The film was praised by critics and mental health professionals alike. It was picked up by Channel 4 as well as being featured in a moving piece on BBC News.
Solimeno hopes that by releasing two films this year, both with a strong focus on mental wellbeing, he can cut through the noise and reach men who find it hard to talk.
He says, “You’re going to fail sometimes, and you’re going to fall, no matter who you are. We have to allow for that. None of those falls or failures need define us if we can find a way to get back in the game of life and play again. The fact is, I’m a far stronger, far more capable man now than I ever could have been if I hadn’t been on that journey. From where I stand now, I’m grateful for the things that went wrong in many ways and I desperately want to communicate that. When you’re there it feels like nothing could ever change and that there’s nothing to play for, but the truth is that all storms pass. Afterwards, no matter what you lose, you will still be you, maybe even a better version. Given time, good things can and often do grow out of bad times.”
Cristian Solimeno is available for interview on the points above and to promote his film, The Glass Man, which will be released on digital download platforms from 7th December.
Read Cristian’s account of dealing with grief from suicide here: https://thebookofman.com/mind/mental-health/the-eclipse/