A story of character examination and fixation, Simple Mind journeys into the mind of a man whose mental health is reflected by the film itself. As a character study, the film focuses on telling the story in a manner that best reflects its principal character, Bob (Timothy J. Cox). This is widely achieved through imaginative cinematography (shot by Director Paul Nameck) and a subversive soundtrack (supplied by Keith Campbell).
Simple Mind follows the conversation between Bob and his therapist Samantha (Kristi McCarson) as she probes the dark reaches of his mind. This conversation is fractured and the disjointed nature of the cinematography amplifies Bob’s fixation on detail. As Samantha delves deeper into Bob’s psyche, we soon learn that he has had a troubling past, which has started to surface.
Through the use of flashbacks, we see glimpses of Bob’s past actions which he is constantly reliving in his mind. The repetition of these images narrows his gaze to singular items that he has an emotional attachment to. This imagery, however, is also confused and muddled, which forces our attention to the key items that he is obsessed with. Not only is this method of storytelling a way to reflect the protagonist’s mental state, it is also how the narrative drives forward and builds a respectable amount of intrigue and tension.
The musical score lends much to the morbid fascination that Cox’s characterisation of Bob attracts. At times, the overpowering noise of Bob’s heartbeat echoing through the film is the rope that pulls the viewer through, and in many ways the soundtrack is the anchor for the film with its march-like rhythm being inescapably hypnotic. This soundtrack is geared to overwhelm the viewer in the same way that Bob himself is overwhelmed.
With a rather modest budget of $200 and a cast and crew of half a dozen, Simple Mind demonstrates the filmmakers’ ability to create a film that utilises the resources available. With a higher budget, the film could, perhaps, have explored the same subject matter with a darker visual style and more polished end result. Simple Mind however, shows an understanding of character motivation that keeps the story grounded in reality, which is key to the film’s success.