Colm Meaney probably doesn’t get the credit he deserves for his skill as an actor. That's probably down to the fact that he has been associated so readily with two roles; Star Trek’s Miles O’Brien and Barrytown’s Jimmy Rabbitte. But there are certain movies that bring out the best in the 58-year-old Dubliner: movies such as How Harry Became a Tree (2001) and Kings (2007). And we can now add a third movie to that ever-growing list: Parked.
Already a hit on the festival circuit from Galway to New York to Helsinki, Parked is the feature debut of Darragh Byrne and it marks the Kells man out as a director to watch. Meaney is terrific as Fred, a middle-aged man who returns to Ireland only to find that he has nowhere to live but his car. Though Meaney is at the heart of the film, he is well supported by a strong ensemble cast. Colin Morgan (the young Armagh actor making a splash in BBC's Merlin) is terrific as a Dublin junkie who takes up residence in a car not far from Fred's. It seems a bad omen for the older man but gradually they form a bond (credit to the director here for not laying on the schmaltz) that helps both parties come to terms with their lot in life.
An equally important relationship opens up for Fred when he meets Finnish music teacher Juliana (Milka Ahlroth). The scenes between the two are beautifully played, touching and often comedic (check out the aqua aerobics sequence). Though shot quickly and on a small budget, Parked is laced with humanity, beautifully photographed by John Conroy and filled with deft cinematic touches; not least Niall Byrne's evocative score.