Having already impressed with Conquest of the South Pole and Needles, MacKinnon here offers a tough, intelligent version of John Healy's autobiography. Brutalised by his father during a sickly childhood, Healy later ditched a promising boxing career to indulge his obsession for booze among the dossers in London's parks. Repeated stints in prison didn't help, and only when a cellmate taught him the game of chess did salvation seem a prospect. While MacKinnon makes great use of a highly mobile camera - though made for TV, this is real film-making - he and scriptwriter Frank Deasy respect the inherent drama of Healy's painful, often drily funny story, aided by an astonishing performance from Rylance as the shy, innocent and none-too-articulate Healy.
Cast and crew
Mark Rylance Lynsey Baxter Pete Postlethwaite Billy Boyle Gerard Horan Bunny May Harry Landis