The aching loneliness of isolation is prevalent all throughout Todd. The second feature film for director Aaron Warren, written by both Aaron Warren and James Catizone, Todd uses a triptych of storylines to follow the eternal insecurities of feeling alone. The film begins with the titular Todd (Hans Hernke) meandering through his very gray and bland routine of waking up, roving his apartment, and eventually ending up at a shrine to all the pills he’s been prescribed to take. Todd traverses the world as a man on the edge. Since his parents died two years ago on his birthday, he’s isolated himself so much, his therapist, Dr. Richard Miller (Aaron Jackson) is the only person he talks to. Until, one day, Todd bumps into Amy (Laura Stetman) and his gray world bursts into color.
Todd, Richard, and Amy are the three narratives we trace, and they all seemingly mirror each other. We know that Todd has always felt like the odd man out, alone and isolated. But as Richard goes home for the evening, he is met by a family that he just wants space from, causing him to push them away. Amy, on the other hand, is the embodiment of a different type of lonely. She lives alone and is markedly single, with Elizabeth (Clare Lopez) as her only close confidant, Amy longs for greener pastures.
All these narratives dovetail and return in equal measures. Todd begins to follow Amy, witnessing her go home with a famous actor, her own thirst for connection and a way out of her isolated life spilling over. This drives Todd to confide in Richard that he no longer feels anything. Floundering, the doctor responds with hostility and a refusal to write any more scripts for Todd. Both Todd and his therapist seem to be spiraling out in equal measures. As Todd ramps up his stalking of Amy, Richard is at a bar, turning down sleazy women and wearing horrible hats. Not even the shining light of Jake the bartender, played by the evergreen Michael Winslow, can bring Richard the sense of peace he searches for as he finally admits that it’s he who feels like the odd man out, stuck between his wife and daughter.
At every turn, the people in Richard’s life are telling him he is too distant, he belittles them, and is generally cruel. He tries to right his wrongs and reconnect with his family after a particularly big fight, but it’s to no avail. His wife is on the brink of leaving him, his daughter is reluctant to forgive him, his path ahead seems bleak. He hits rock bottom at the same time Todd does.
The climax of the film centers around Todd’s unraveling as he attacks Amy before heading to Richard’s house, holding the entire family hostage. It is here that everything that’s risen, converges. Todd just wants an apology, to be treated as a person, to be given an honest, unmanipulated way of relating. But seeing the doctor with his family, he can’t follow through on harming anyone for it. Todd’s desire for pure connection brings Richard’s family back together. The same cannot be said for Todd, who continues to fall apart further in a way that can leave a viewer feeling distant from the narrative.
Of course, there’s a desire to hold space for the nuanced conversations of loneliness, mental illness, and the risk of suicide. But this film is not one for nuance. It does, however, do a good job of reminding us we are all connected. There is a moment where Amy expresses to Elizabeth that she received a note from Todd which was both tender and sweet, full of emotions we all share. And it’s true, these characters all push and pull one another on their journeys, combating their own isolation to remind the viewer not to take anyone for granted anymore, especially ourselves.
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