Mental illness in the Black community and taboo are synonymous. Growing up, discussing family business with outsiders was a definitively negative move. Along with this ideology that one must be crazy if you choose to speaking with a licensed professional therapist.
So, as a result most Black people who struggle with depression, being bi-polar or manic suffer in silence letting this disease eat one down to their core. What happens when getting help isn’t an option or your mind just reaches the point of no return.
Killian Maddox (Jonathan Majors) lives with his ailing veteran grandfather, obsessively working out between court-mandated therapy appointments and part-time shifts at a grocery store where he struggles with a crush on a friendly cashier. Struggling to read social cues and maintaining control of his volatile temper amplify his sense of disconnection. However, nothing deters him from his fierce dream of bodybuilding superstardom, not even the doctors who warn that he’s causing permanent damage to his body with his quest.
Writer-director Elijah Bynum skillfully reveals the duality of Killian’s existence, depicting the toll of a toxic stew to meet unrealistic expectations and hypermasculine role modeling while simultaneously conveying his genuine efforts to fulfill an underlying desire for human connection.
Although this film is wrought with onscreen inconsistencies and a few moments that don’t seem to add clarity to the narrative, there is no denying that Jonathan Majors delivers and embodies the lengths Killian will go in his desperate need to be seen and understood.. Between his training regime of scarfing down nearly 6000 calories a day and executing some stunt work that is terrifying at best, Majors delivers on all cylinders with a career best performance once again solidifying his star power.
Magazine Dreams is a provocative, dark disturbing film that pulls no punches in portraying the most physically and emotionally painful moments of mental illness in it most fragile state.