Patrick (Moe Dunford) is a 26-year old schizophrenic youth, who goes missing in the middle of in St Patrick’s Day festivities in Dublin, much to the alarm of his English mother Maura (Kerry Fox from Jane Campion's An Angel at My Table.)
As it happens, Patrick is being chatted up by the world-weary and cynical air hostesss, Karen (Catherine Walker). After some time spent on the town together they end up outside her bedroom door. Karen is some years older than Patrick, something she does not realise until she playfully lifts his St Patrick’s Day mask - Groucho Marx in a green wig. The fact that he is younger and that he is schizophrenic - which he tells her - does not stop her drunken seduction.
At the garda station Maura reports her son’s absence and meets the decidedly eccentric detective Freeman (Philip Jackson.) He is diffident about the fact that Patrick has gone missing. In fact, he is more concerned with impressing Maura with his unfunny jokes about schizophrenics and mental illness. So far so ho hum.
Eventually mother and son – and air hostess - do meet up back at the hotel where they all happen to be staying on the same floor. There is a bit of a showdown between the protective ma and her son’s seductress. However, the relationship between Patrick and Karen develops, despite mother’s stern disapproval.
The film is effectively Moe Dunford’s film .His is quite a performance, akin to the kind of bravura turn Eamonn Owens delivered as the unhinged Francie in Neil Jordan’s 1997 screen adaptation of Patrick McCabe’s novel, The Butcher Boy.
Catherine Walker is equally strong as the suicidal air hostess, but Kerry Fox’s over-protective mother seems ruled by a calculated, cool stagecraft. She doesn’t sit quite right as a convincing mother to Patrick, the flesh-and-blood relationship is somehow not palpable.
Freeman as the cop becomes increasingly off the wall as the film goes on, providing a kind of blackly comic relief whose function is difficult to discern.
We know it’s cosmopolitan Dublin and so on, and it's St Patrick's Day, but still one meekly wonders where were the Irish actors? There is no real reason for the two adults most concerned about Patrick in the film not to be Irish, unless to enhance perhaps the young man's sense of isolation. Two English people drinking large bottles in Dublin and bonding – well, sort of - over a troubled young Irish lad? Hmm, not very convincing at all.
The film won the Audience Award at the Cork Film Festival last year, and shared the Best Irish Feature award at the Galway Film Fleadh with Gerard Barrett's Glassland. Director Terry McMahon (Charlie Casanova) knows how to use cinema to evoke disturbing scenes. Still, the story doesn’t convince, despite Dunford’s admirable performance.