For audiences below a certain age, it’s possible Robert Carlyle is better known as Once Upon a Time’s Rumpelstiltskin than as, say, Trainspotting’s psychotic Begbie or even The Full Monty’s Gaz, a pending tragedy that this, his best feature in years, will hopefully help to avert.
A never-was star whose chances of being in the British Nirvana died when his bandmate brother overdosed, Carlyle’s middle-aged musician Lachlan MacAldonich now makes his living managing an organic farm, but the fact that he spends his free time hosting a podcast about untimely rock deaths suggests that the wounds of the past are only slightly scabbed over. When a DUI charge upsets his immigration status, MacAldonich is threatened with being sent back to the family he’s spent years avoiding, and his attempt to reinvent himself starts to seem like simple escape.
The character masks his desperation with a combination of stiff upper lip and SoCal cool, but Carlyle keeps his emotions bubbling just under the surface, needing only a stiff drink to let them loose. Although it makes room for a few others, namely Alexia Rasmussen as a farmers’-market flirt and Danny Masterson as her Britpop-obsessed boyfriend, Marshall Lewy’s film functions largely as a delivery system for Carlyle’s performance. Luckily, Carlyle’s tough, tender turn is strong enough to carry the load.
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