Edwyn Collins was plunged into an unfamiliar and incoherent inner world following his stroke in 2005. After watching The Possibilities Are Endless, the viewer becomes aware of Collins’ terrifying journey into his own mind, isolated from any clear idea of an external reality, and desperately clinging at the shadowy forms of his past and present. It is impossible to understand what goes on inside the mind of a stroke victim. Obviously it differs radically from case to case, according to both the severity of the stroke and the individual – but in general, one imagines a kind of deep sense of isolation and loneliness, confusion and frustration, mystery and chaos.
The director does well in evoking at least a fraction of Collins’ experience post-stroke, when he finds himself battling with past and present; who he is now is placed in stark contrast with who is portrayed as the witty and charismatic lead singer of Orange Juice, and his legacy makes it even harder for Edwyn to comes to terms with his present condition.
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The Possibilities Are Endless is a deeply internal portrayal of its subjects – Edwyn and, to a lesser extent, his wife. James Hall and Edward Lovelace dwell within the mind of Edwyn. His voice narrates over images of a drowning figure immersed in wild waters, and rolling images of dramatic Scottish landscapes. The underwater struggle of what looks like a teenage boy is particularly effective in conveying Edwyn’s battle with the outside world, and shards of old memories from a different life. The film is cleverly and clearly divided in two.
The first half attempts to plunge its viewers into Edwyn’s world; Edwyn tries (poetically and touchingly) to articulate his wayward and dreamy thoughts while Grace, his wife, offers a more sober perspective of their life together, and Edwyn’s condition as seen from the outside. In this first half, the audience is only offered a single glimpse into Edwyn’s explosive and successful past via a short clip taken from an interview on the American television show, Conan. From this follows a David Lynchesque journey into a fractured and fragmented mind.
The second half is more coherent and more positive. It shows its subjects attempting to overcome their situation. Edwyn and his wife work on their relationship, Edwyn starts singing again and, eventually, they move to the place of Edwyn’s childhood, a remote Scottish town which Edwyn connects with happiness. The greatest force in the film is undoubtedly the subject’s wife, Grace. She is portrayed as an admirably strong person, battling through every hardship and refusing to give up on Edwyn, who she clearly adores. The theme of Grace’s unconditional love accompanies Edwyn’s personal struggles to form a deeply engaging and moving portrait of both a man and his fate.
Watch the trailer for The Possibilities Are Endless here:
Watch The Possibilities Are Endless – the full movie – here
The Possibilities Are Endless at IMDb
The Possibilities Are Endless film’s website
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Edwyn Collins at Wikipedia
The Possibilities Are Endless (awards won and nominated for) at IMDb