Director: Niall Heery
Cast: James Nesbitt, Maisie Williams and David Wilmot
Running Time: 88 minutes
Release Date: October 10th
Upon returning back to his old town to visit his dying father, Ray (David Wilmot) unexpectedly shows up at the house of his old flame Alice (Kerry Condon) and their daughter Abbie (Maisie Williams). They are now living with Ray’s former P.E. teacher Frank (James Nesbitt), who is working on a fitness programme that he believe will revolutionise P.E. teaching. Ray tries to find a way to reconnect with his daughter and turn his life around but his past–he has a history of depression and suicide attempts–might prove to be an obstacle.
The film has an offbeat sense of tone and this is one of the main problems of the film. The film goes for a very deadpan approach to its characters, hoping this would add a sense of perspective towards the issues that it raises through the portrayal of Ray such as suicide, depression and past regrets. Instead of doing this, however, the film strikes a false note, almost coming to the point where depression and suicide merely come across as character quirks. This is no fault of David Wilmot who does do the best he can with a character that seems to change from awkward loser to cheeky jack the lad at the drop of a hat.
In fact, these inconsistencies within the characters is a main factor for the overall failure of the film. The characters are all too underdeveloped to create any real sympathy towards them, seemingly making decisions on a whim that the film ends up glossing over or completely ignoring. And these aren’t little things that can’t be ignored so easily. They range from brief affairs to accidents that almost lead to death. The filmmakers seemingly have no interest in following the consequences of these actions that they end up making the characters kind of unlikeable.
Added to the mix is an unbelievably grating and overused soundtrack. There are times during the film where it appears the music is being used not to create a mood for the characters but rather to literally describe how the characters are feeling. One such example would be when Ray, having caused huge problems for the family and is asked to leave the house, is seen walking when the song on the soundtrack starts off with the line “I guess I fucked up now”. When you take this approach to the soundtrack your film you always run the risk of coming across as being lazy in your choices, which is sadly what the case is here.
While the actors do the best they can with the material they have been given–Williams is pretty good and a few lapses aside does a pretty decent Irish accent–the problem is their characters are not interesting enough to merit your attention. The film itself is too prone to deadpan whimsy to connect on an emotional level. In the end, it is nowhere near the medal standard of its title. To be honest it should be grateful to even receive a participant’s medal.