A Film With Me In ItThursday 16 Oct 2008
Director: Ian Fitzgibbon
Starring: Mark Doherty, Dylan Moran, Amy Huberman, David Doherty and Keith Allen.
Duration: 89 minutes
This concept-driven black comedy needs to be given a chance to work and even then can only be judged a partial success.
Set in and around a ramshackle under-the-stairs flat in south Dublin, it follows a day or so in the life of Mark (Mark Doherty), a down on his luck actor. Mark lives with girlfriend Sally (Huberman) and disabled brother David (Doherty). Initially, the film sets out the circumstances of Mark’s mundane and depressing existence, sketching out a web of girlfriend problems, career failure, insecurity, money worries, and an immature, co-dependent relationship with best friend Pierce (Moran).
This opening half-hour builds the picture well enough - resisting the urge to give away too much too soon, and drawing the viewer in closer.
That said, the script is largely functional at best and downright clichéd in places, particularly where it concerns Sally and David’s relationship. There are some comedic moments - chief among them being Pierce’s introduction speech to an Alcoholic Anonymous group, which is Moran at his stand-up best.
Having taken its time constructing this fairly ho-hum scenario, the film then veers sharply toward the macabre. Thanks to an outlandish sequence of what I can only call 'plot essential'/spoiler events, Mark’s world collapses around him. Quite sensibly, his first reaction is to take to his bed. Unfortunately for him, step two is to phone Pierce, whose main contribution is to make a bad situation much, much worse.
The subsequent series of odd scenarios are not exactly laugh out loud funny, though there is something beguilingly amusing about it all. To Doherty’s credit, Mark’s dismay has a believability and humanity about it, right to the slightly over-neat conclusion.
So, is it any good? Well, the proper laughs are fairly limited - one solid gold piece of 100% hilarity involving a shovel aside - and the plot/concept isn’t all that successful as a weird-out 'mind-bender'. The Coen brothers are referenced but this needed more creativity and zip from line to line - less tropey characters might have helped - to achieve the type of sustained, constantly building absurdity that is their hallmark.
You could accuse it of being a little bit too much like an ill-disguised thought experiment - filled with plenty of in joke-ish writerly puns - and geared towards fixing writer’s block.
It's different, sometimes funny and quite strange, but not wholly satisfying.
I would like to have liked it more.