Director: Lance Daly
Cast: Fionnula Flanagan, Pat Shortt, Kelly Thornton, Eva Birthistle
Running Time: 85 minutes
Release Date: July 19
Ireland’s economy has brought us countless sorrows, too numerous to count in a humble film review. Even Irish cinemagoers are struggling in a recession, with awful films like 8.5 Hours, The Tiger’s Tale and Situations Vacant. Haven’t we suffered enough? Life’s a Breeze easily surpasses expectations simply by not sucking.
When Nan (Fionnuala Flanagan) is taken out for the day by her granddaughter Emma (newcomer Kelly Thornton), her grown children tidy the house from top to bottom—throwing out all her old tat and replacing her battered old devices with shiny new ones. The bad news is that Nan’s life savings, of hundreds of thousands of euros, was in her discarded mattress. What follows is a desperate hunt for the missing piece of furniture.
Life’s a Breeze is a feather-light, but perfectly agreeable film. It’s certainly Lance Daly’s most mainstream offering to date, but the Kisses director still has a good eye, capturing the beauty and grime of Dublin once again.
Pat Shortt—playing the layabout, black sheep of the family—reminds me a little of Adam Sandler: Both are talented actors and comics who spend a lot of their careers making broad comedies that the public like a lot more than I do, and both have one standout, incredible performance to their credit. If Garage was Shortt’s Punch Drunk Love, this is his Funny People; an imperfect, noble effort, and a bridge between his art-house and mainstream fare.
There are some lovely details—like the horrible hat that Nan knits for her granddaughter, suggesting that Nan still sees Emma as a little girl. Emma wears it religiously, except when she’s near the school gates.
It’s also a rare film that makes funny Irish pop culture references—the importance of The Late Late Show in some people’s lives; Joe Duffy as the nation’s agony uncle; those shrill and judgemental late-night Dublin radio chat shows.
Despite its well-known cast and handful of cameos, young Kelly Thornton, making her debut, is the real star. It’s a lovely, naturalistic adolescent performance and she has real presence. Most of the scenes feature Thornton, as the story is told through her eyes.