A Kiss for JedThursday 17 May 2012
Director: Maurice Linnane
Starring: Mark O'Halloran, Jayne Wisener, Lee Arenberg, Rafael Sardina
Duration: 86 minutes
If, among the dizzying array of IFTA awards next year, they decide to hand out a gong for get up and go, then A Kiss for Jed director Maurice Linnane will definitely be a contender. It's one thing to submit yourself to the hair-greying/thinning experience of making a low budget Irish film in Ireland, but to up sticks and shoot nearly all of it in New York? In 15 days? The finished movie has its flaws, but as an example of people pulling together and getting a job done, A Kiss for Jed is inspirational.
It tells the story of two misfits, 19-year-old Orla (Wisener) and Ray (O'Halloran), who is 40-going-on-80. She has won a TV competition to travel to New York and try and secure face time with country music superstar Jed Wood (remember the TV show The Fame Game?). Ray is the cameraman/director who has to get it on tape for the viewers back home and who thinks such jobs are beneath him - even at twice the usual rate. Acting as a buffer between the snob and the free spirit is Mike (Arenberg), a veteran soundman from the adult entertainment industry who has found that his opportunities to create sonic masterpieces have been destroyed by the gonzo colossus that is www.
Over four days, this unlikely trio lurch from one crisis to another in the Big Apple. Orla decides to go shopping and mucks up half a day's filming. She then manages to sin again by hooking up with a teeth-and-trousers merchant called Freddie (Sardina). Ray, on the other hand, is better with machines than people and seemingly has a face that half of New York wants to thump, while Mike just tries his hardest to keep spirits up. As for Jed, well, he can't be found. Or maybe just doesn't want to be.
If someone had to cast a three-hander sitcom in a 24-hour deadline, O'Halloran, Wisener and Arenberg would be a gift from the gods. They have real charm, bounce off each other brilliantly and make you care about these characters. Unfortunately (and perhaps predictably), A Kiss for Jed always feels like it's in too much of a hurry. In the time-honoured tradition of chalk and cheese, Ray ends up falling for Orla, but the Eureka moment arrives far too quickly on-screen and you may think another 20 minutes were needed to get to that point. In their place are enough cutaway shots of New York to last anyone a lifetime - gorgeous, but they give the film a one-off TV show feel and don't have anywhere near the same impact as a few more good jokes. However sweet the movie is, it's still slight.
Ultimately, the big achievement of A Kiss for Jed was to get a film done in such a breakneck time schedule - 18 days in total - rather than the story itself. It would be great to see O'Halloran, Wisener and Arenberg in bigger roles or, indeed, that sitcom. And it would be very interesting to see what director Linnane could do with more time and money.