The Boy from Mercury
Time Out saysWriter/director Duffy's semi-autobiographical first feature breathes life into the rites-of-passage movie, mostly by respecting the scale and nature of childhood experience. Set in Dublin sometime between the Sputnik going up and Gagarin going round, it concerns an eight-year-old, James Cronin (Hickey), who becomes convinced that he and his dog are Mercurians with special powers. His doting mother (Tushingham) is as acquiescent as his brother and schoolmates are derisive: her forbearance is based on concern - and maybe guilt - following her husband's death. As the boy's delusions persist, uncle Tony (Courtenay), a gentle, almost foolish man wedded to his scooter, is called in. An opening quote from Terence Davies' The Long Day Closes proves an affectionate homage not a stylistic introduction. Thereafter Duffy settles down to his own narrative style: one of gradually beguiling understatement. The early '60s era of Bakelite and pinafores is unobtrusively caught by cinematographer Seamus Deasy. Courtenay's turn errs on the side of mannerism, but otherwise Hickey's unfussy playing has fine support. A sweetheart of a movie.