The fruitful pairing of the director, Leonard Abrahamson, and writer, Mark O’Halloran, who in 2005 were responsible for ‘Adam & Paul’, has produced another fascinating and individual addition to Irish cinema. Changing accent and locale from the drug-troubled streets of Dublin to a one-car town in the Irish Midlands, this unostentatious drama focuses on another of life’s potential losers, Josie, the thirtysomething attendant of a run-down garage.
Movingly played by Pat Shortt, Josie belongs to a class of intellectually and emotionally ‘challenged’ individuals who are charged with living their lives without much family or social support. He is tolerated – where not patronised or bullied – by his community, and he hides his feelings and confusions (not least sexual) under a willing and smilingly empathetic front.
Abrahamson and O’Halloran apply implicit criticism of injurious small town bigotry, but they content themselves in mapping out Josie’s life in plain view, avoiding reductionism, didacticism – or condescension of their own – by giving full attention to the scope and richness of Josie’s own experience, notably his appreciation of beauty, the solace he takes in a horse, and the balm he offers a grieving man.
The film’s turning point comes with the friendship offered by a 15-year-old weekend worker (Conor Ryan), who thinks him ‘fucking sound!’ for joining his friends for beers late at night. There may be gentle echoes of Bresson’s essential ‘realism’ here (specifically, ‘Mouchette’), but the director’s application of grace-notes of pathos and humour give the film a distinctive voice. It’s nicely shot, (by Peter Robertson), discreetly scored (by Stephen Rennicks) and offers fine work from supporting players, including Anne-Marie Duff and Denis Conway.
Cast and crew
Conor J Ryan