A dysfunctional family going out of control in an Irish seaside resort is an interesting premise for a movie. Even more compelling, or disturbing, depending on your point of view, is Sigmund Freud's Oedipus Complex theory that is realised here.
At the heart of the story is six-year-old Eamon (Donnelly), who travels with his mother Grace (Kirwan) and her partner Daniel (Healy) for a short break in an isolated cottage by the sea. Eamon, though quite sweet and sensitive to look at, has behavioural problems that are exacerbated by the intake of sugary drinks. Yet, he pines for the attention of his mother. She freely allows him to share her bed, while keeping the sexually frustrated Daniel at bay.
A scene where Eamon applies tanning lotion on the bikini-clad body of Grace, while Daniel looks on in hopeless desperation, is both comical and unsettling. Writer-director Corkery manages this fusion of outcomes to satisfying effect at many points throughout, and her characters have much to work on by way of a tight script that manages to make dialogue between a child and adults even funnier than it ought to be.
In time, Grace finds herself attracted by a fellow swimmer, and his toned body. Eamon gets hyperactive after drinking Coke, while Daniel has a bizarre encounter with the man, who the now selfish Grace, pines for. At this juncture, the believability of the characters and the forces that shaped their controlling ways loses some of its focus. The ending may be a surprise, given what has preceded it.
Any critical assessment here should be prefaced by many positives. Corkery resists the temptation to show-off in her debut feature, which was made for €250,000 with the help of the Catalyst Project - a scheme introduced to assist aspiring filmmakers in Ireland develop their own projects. The cinematography is concise and crisp, at times showing off the skies above Brittas Bay in glorious technicolor.
The performances are also outstanding throughout, with Robert Donnelly's Eamon a wonderfully creepy creation amid the triumvirate of increasingly tortured souls.