Irish Double Bill

The Irish Film and TV Awards took place last night, so it seems fitting to review a couple of the winners from the big night. To help me, I invited special guest reviewer and honorary Irishman Michael Flatley around for his input and after some pleasantries about the soft rain and a little dancing, we settled down to watch the following double bill.

A Date for Mad Mary (Darren Thornton, 2016) was awarded Best Film on the night, a popular decision all round for the well-received film. It's a nicely judged comedy-drama about the attempts of Mary (Seána Kerslake) to obtain a date for her best friend Charlene's wedding. Trouble is, Mary has just been released after a short spell in prison and everyone, including Charlene, seems to have moved on without her. Kerslake is the stand-out here with an excellent performance as Mary, whose likeable persona belies some darker, 'mad' personality traits which invariably scupper her attempts to fit in with 'normal' folk. But she gets good support because the film gratifyingly fleshes out the other female characters into three-dimensional figures; Charlene (Charleigh Bailey) develops into much more than the bridezilla we are initially presented with, whilst Jess (Tara Lee) becomes increasingly important to Mary as the film develops. Structurally, it doesn't really avoid the conventional plot developments that one normally finds in this type of film (yes, there is a comic montage of failed dates), but it puts enough spin on proceedings to be comfortable with its own identity by the end. Make a date with it.
What did Micheal Flatley think? Bleedin' rapid fidlim.

The Young Offenders (Peter Foott, 2016) won Best Screenplay at the IFTAs and is a broader comedy-drama about two feckless Cork teenagers who decide to make their fortune by cycling to the coast to try and retrieve one of the bales of cocaine that washed ashore after a drugs heist at sea. Naturally, things don't quite go to plan, not least because of the hapless antics of the central duo (charming performances from Alex Murphy and Chris Walley), who aren't quite as smart or tough as they would like to be. It's really good fun, with an energetic pace and increasingly farcical plot, although it still allows for some quieter moments of drama and introspection which help give it some warmth and depth. It's currently available on Netflix so if you're after an easy watch with a few belly-laughs, this'll do the job rightly.
What did Micheal Flatley think? Them langers are a couple of right gowls, d'ya know like?!

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