Film Review: Mad to Be Normal

There have been many different responses to mental illness throughout the ages. In the ancient world it was often conflated with divine communication. In mediaeval times, it was largely viewed as demonic or diabolical possession. As we entered the latter part of the last millennium, we increasingly chose to lock-up ‘the insane’ in establishments like Bedlam. The 20th century brought its own terrors of shock therapy and lobotomies. Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing had a different approach to treatment which forms the basis of Robert Mullan new film Mad to Be Normal.

Throughout the 1960s and ‘70s, Laing (David Tennant) lived and worked out of Kingsley Hall in East London. His revolutionary methods included using LSD on his patients and practising a form of self-healing. This made him both infamous and famous, attracting packed audiences and a press scrum wherever he speaks. One such admirer is Angie (Elisabeth Moss), who falls for the Scotsman. She takes up residence in the house with the menagerie of patients and doctors including Jim (Gabriel Byrne), Sydney (Michael Gambon) and Dr. Meredith (David Bamber).

Mad to Be Normal is an interesting insight into the life and mind of R.D. Laing. Tennant does a brilliant job of embodying the personality and the mannerisms of the infamous Scot. It’s undoubtedly his best performance of the big screen. There are also some great supporting roles from the talented cast and a lovely cameo from Michael Gambon. Mad to Be Normal is an enthralling drama about a man who was both misunderstood and at times misguided.

Mad to Be Normal will be available to watch on Digital Download from 13th August

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