In conversation with Tinge Krishnan

Cornerhouse Digital Reporter Clyde Macfarlane meets the director of Junkhearts Tinge Krishnan…

On a rough council estate in Brick Lane, an unlikely friendship develops between an ex- soldier, Frank (Eddie Marsan) and a homeless girl, Lynette (Candese Reid). So how, one could justifiably ask, does BAFTA Award winning director Tinge Krishnan make Junkhearts stand out in an age of renascence for gritty British cinema? The answer lies in Tinge’s personal experience of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a result of her work for the Thailand tsunami relief.

“Flashbacks”, she tells me, is a misleading term; PTSD sufferers live very much in the present. And so when Frank has a bad time, armed soldiers break down doors in his flat and shout in his face. The kettle drips blood. It’s a world away from the Hollywood flashbacks of a messed up ‘nam vet, where past and present are neatly separated to avoid confusion for the viewer- triggered perhaps by a vacant stare as if to say “it’s coming!” and then, suddenly, we are in Vietnam. When the Hollywood flashback is over, we are back in the comfort of America.

A more realistic portrayal of PTSD can be seen in Robert De Niro’s Travis Bickle (Taxi Driver), and Tinge seemed flattered when a comparison between Frank and Travis was drawn in the Q&A afterwards.

Marsan is superb, finding his own niche in a juxtaposition between mental fragility and physical strength- Frank and Lynette bond over an impromptu self defence lesson- that is typical of such a role. The limelight should not, however, be taken away from the streetwise yet venerable Reid, whose character demands an equally strong performance. Frank’s PTSD makes Junkhearts a memorable watch, but without such an electric relationship between the two characters it would have little relatable context.