It is an unfortunate but extremely widespread reality in our world that quite often, mental illness doesn’t quite get the same attention, understanding and care as the more common physical illness. Granted, it might be harder to spot in a crowd, but this doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be treated on the same level of seriousness as something readily identifiable on the surface. ‘To the Power of Ten‘ seeks to shed light on one of the many facets regarding the offset, manifestation and implications of such a case.
James, played by the writer of the script Niall O’Mara himself, showcases a severe case of obsessive-compulsive behaviour, and it becomes very clear right from the start that this exerts a considerable and tangible influence over his day to day life. His actions often lead to his being late for school, and the teacher is quick to assume that this is a result of his laziness, and proceeds to punish him.
Later on in the film, we explore a different James in a different time – when he was younger. What is almost a second facet of the film deals with the inception of his problematic state, as partly determined by a very important event affecting his life at one point of his childhood. The way in which these scenes are constructed, the manner in which they flow and deliver their extremely humane and heartfelt message is truly mesmerising. Director and producer Richard Kattah brings all of these elements to life and showcases plenty of professionalism behind the camera. Similarly, all the actors involved, but Niall O’Mara more than everybody delivers an amazing performance that is incredibly nuanced and convincing. He oozes raw emotion, and delivers a memorable scene after another, mostly through either non-verbal gestures and interior monologue.
It is a very difficult endeavour to find any major flaws within ‘To the Power of Ten’ and point them out in a concise manner. The entire film is so captivating, that it’s more of an experience to be lived rather than watched, and a lesson rather than an entertaining display in the classical sense of the term. It does indeed present a deeply emotional and humane tragedy, but it does so much more than that, since the takeaway itself is generalisable and applicable to so many different contexts. Each day, many people around the world get reprimanded, bullied and made fun of due to more serious causes than mere laziness or clumsiness, the initiating factors of which are certainly not within their direct control. For its successful juggle with complex themes and motifs and memorable exposition of at least one of these, ‘To the Power of Ten’ has been awarded with the 2nd Best Film of the Month award for the September 2017 edition by The Monthly Film Festival.