The Laughing King’s purpose is to raise awareness on depression and mental illness in the UK. The short, 15-minute film discusses the sensitive subject of male suicide, which accounts for 76% of the total amount of suicides in Great Britain and is the number one cause of death among men under the age of 45.
Directed by Lindy Heymann, whose personal story of loss and suicide led her to co-write the script with Leigh Campbell, The Laughing King was produced without any financial assistance, but with everyone involved dedicating their time in kind.
The film follows the story of Jake (Colin Morgan), a young man, who arrives in Blackpool, the seaside town of his childhood. Harassed, confused and lost in his thoughts after the loss of his father, he walks around the beach reminiscing past family moments. The pain and drain are so heavy for him to confront, that he decides to end his life. That is when he unexpectedly meets a troubled girl (Kerrie Hayes) and saves her.
Notice should be taken of the wonderful scenery, as well as cinematography which perfectly captures the gloomy tone of the film. The same goes for the music, which dresses each scene with gentle melancholia.
There isn’t much dialogue to be found here, as there’s no need for it. The images say it all. Silence reflects the loneliness of the protagonist, as he’s wandering alone amongst people with the vivid sounds of the shops echoing around him. This contrast – being separated and disconnected from the world and the hustle – is also reflected on his sister Emily’s (Cara Seymour) frantic efforts to reach him.
Colin Morgan’s austere yet powerful performance fills the film. You can feel his pain and despair even when he’s not speaking. But, despite the pain, there is also hope here, and a positive message to be found. The Laughing King shows us that our lives can change at any given moment. By saving another person, Jake saved himself. So, when at times it all seems as though it should come to an end, don’t give up. Perhaps it’s just the beginning of something else – finding your place in this world again, maybe even with the help of a chance encounter.
Watch the trailer for The Laughing King here: