Michael McCrea (Cillian Murphy), is a layabout n'er-do-well who is estranged from his parents and in love with Brenda (Jodie Whittaker, who I first saw at the festival a few years back in Venus) the girl who lives downstairs from him. But Brenda sees him nothing more than a friend to whom she can complain about her indifferent and cheating boyfriend.
One day, Michael awakes in his apartment to a visit from two thugs who work for Darren Perrier (Brendan Gleeson), a local crime boss to whom Michael owes money. Given a deadline only a few hours away to come up with the money, Michael sets off across the city to find a way out, soon drawing in Brenda and his dad Jim (Jim Broadbent), who suddenly appears with news of his impending death.
The film has the right mix of drama and humour, and is given more depth in the fractured relationship between father and son. All the leads acquit themselves well, especially Murphy and Broadbent. Murphy captures well his character's frustration with life, and Broadbent demonstrates his usual skill in displaying an offbeat, eccentric personality that is often a cover for deeper-held feelings. The Guy-Ritchiesque voice over narration occasionally present in the film seemed a bit unnecessary at first, but there is a payoff in the end. Overall, the film provided a good start to the festival for me.
Director Ian FitzGibbon (A Film With Me In It), and stars Cillian Murphy and Brendan Gleeson were in attendance and did a Q&A after the film:
- The humor, imaginations, dark obsessions, and hilarious fixations come from the mind of screenwriter Mark O'Rowe (Boy A, Intermission).
- As a director, FitzGibbon said your first day on set you realize everything is a gamble, which is both terrifying and exciting. You have something in your head which you hope makes sense, and when you're joined by members of the cast, it's a shock, because they obviously see things differently or they have a different take on stuff, but that's also what is magical about filmmaking for him.
- FitzGibbon says when he watches some of the scenes towards the end in the warehouse, when Cillian and Brendan are fronting off of each other, he still gets excited, because he says 'f-me, they've got balls' and that's kind of rare these days to have that kind of humour, and that it's a real privilege to work with that kind of script and language, and these actors who can bring it to life and just fly with it and make it sing.
- Scenes with the ocean were filmed about 40 minutes north of Dublin.
- Cillian said it was a real thrill to work with everyone. He's worked with Brendan several times now (28 Days Later, Breakfast on Pluto, etc.). It's a real privilege to get to work with him over the years; admired when he was young before starting to act, and now as a friend. With Jim, was a fan. Enjoyed every minute of it.
- Gleeson; when you work with something like this, the risks have already been taken by the writer. Mark (O'Rowe) has such a flow and a fearlessness, and had a gumption to be more colourful in the language. Characters came from Mark, and it was fantastic to get hold of them. Proud that they are producing the likes of Murphy as actors from Ireland, and that FitzGibbon was willing to take risks and let the actors go ballistic.
- Murphy: Mark O'Rowe writes Irish males really well, he wrote Intermission that Murphy was also in, and brilliantly identified something about Irish males, maybe it's universal, a tendency to procrastination and not really doing anything. Michael has this relationship with his parents and with this girl and he's letting them all be because he hopes everything will just be all right in the end. Also enjoyed working with Jodie Whittaker, fantastic actress.
- Ian: no plans for next film yet.
- Has Irish and UK distribution with a release in Feb/Mar 2010, but nothing for US yet.
- On working with dogs, FitzGibbon says it was nothing short of a nightmare, and jokes if anyone has a script with dogs, he doesn't want to see it, hear about, or even go see it. Frustrating for everyone because dogs have clearly not read the script and have a shabby attitude when they come on set, have a lot of minders and food requirements, but they don't give you the shot. Gleeson: thought they were brilliant.
- FitzGibbon: Always element of risk, as separately that might make sense in and of themselves, but most crucial thing is chemistry, how does one element react to another element. You just don't know, because the nature of film means you can't get together and rehearse for 3 weeks, it's often just on that day, and they were blessed with good producers that were proactive and had good ideas, and that helped them to give the film a real cohesion, and the cast achieved that. Many of minor roles are filled by local actors that do know each other incredibly well because acting community in Dublin is quite small, but when Jodie or Jim arrived in, those are unknowns.
- Murhpy and Broadbent spent some time together before filming, but for Murphy, it's that feeling when regardless of how successful or old or mature you are, when you're in the presence of your parents you turn into a teenager and everything about them irritates you. Brilliantly observed in Mark's writing, so they just slotted into that.
- Someone asked that since FitzGibbon has done two films about Northsiders (from the rougher, north end of Dublin), will he do anything about cultchies (as FitzGibbons described the term, basically idiots from the country)? FitzGibbon replied he has no idea what his next film might be yet.