The Possibilities Are Endless (4 stars)

The Possibilities Are Endless

Striking documentary charting the trauma and triumph of singer Edwyn Collins

In 2005 the Scottish singer-songwriter Edwyn Collins suffered a massive cerebral haemorrhage that left him with very limited speech and movement. Devastating doesn’t even begin to describe it. And yet, as this impressionistic and moving documentary from British filmmakers James Hall and Edward Lovelace (who go by the creative moniker D.A.R.Y.L.) shows, Edwyn emerged from the wreckage, and continues to do so, rebuilding his life and musical career with the undying support of his wife Grace.

The film begins with a striking, disorienting cut, jumping from the most familiar thing there is about Collins – the unmistakeable riff from 1995's global hit 'A Girl Like You' – to a surreal, almost experimental sequence, quite oppressive in its sound and visuals, that feels like being suddenly plunged underwater. Random phrases are heard in Edwyn’s faltering voiceover as various fleeting, half-formed images float by. It's a similar stylistic approach to Julian Schnabel’s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, which powerfully conveyed its protagonist’s locked-in syndrome from a first person perspective. The impact here is arguably a little too effective, conveying something like Edwyn’s experience of disconnection in a way that threatens to disconnect the audience from the film, as it is such a prolonged and opaque sequence.

Gradually the filmmakers build structure into their film, particularly with the introduction of Edwyn’s wife Grace, whose retelling of the events around Edwyn’s haemorrhage offers a palpable sense of life on a knife-edge. The film builds a clear picture of Edwyn and Grace’s relationship, and all that they have now been through: 'Nowadays, love is real,' is Edwyn’s poignant reflection. And from heartbreaking scenes of him struggling with speech, to joyful moments of him performing again that would have once seemed impossible, the film really is a love story, and an inspiring, hopeful one at that.

Selected release from Fri 7 Nov.

The Possibilities Are Endless (Official Trailer)

The Possibilities Are Endless

  • 4 stars
  • 2014
  • UK
  • 1h 23min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: James Hall/Edward Lovelace
  • UK release: 7 November 2014

Documentary about Scottish singer-songwriter Edwyn Collins, the stroke he suffered in 2005, and his remarkable (albeit ongoing) recovery. The picture of the relationship between Collins and his wife Grace is moving, making for an inspiring and hopeful love story.