Director: Mark Noonan
Cast: Aiden Gillen and Laura Kinsella
Running Time: 81 minutes
Release Date: July 10th
Aidan Gillen is released from prison in order to care for his young niece following her mother’s death in director Mark Noonan’s first feature length outing. The unlikely pair set off to a caravan site somewhere in the Irish countryside, where they are faced with the challenge of getting to know each other and learning to let go. What follows, the trials and tribulations of a cautious but necessary relationship, is endearing, if not entirely novel.
While it is refreshing to see a character driven Irish film — indeed one concerning characters attempting to rebuild their lives from fairly dark developments — that strives to be positive while also aiming for authenticity, You’re Ugly Too mostly feels like a lot of what we’ve seen before.
The dynamic between Gillen’s rogue with a heart of gold and his niece, rough edged but wise beyond her years, is an old trope rehashed for the most part and never really develops beyond that. Despite this, the leads are the strength of the movie. Gillen’s character may not be original, but the actor’s natural unhinged energy let’s him slide easily into the part of a man with a big heart but a penchant for chaos. Young Lauren Kinsella also plays her character well, and achieves many of the movie’s high points by being so satisfyingly real.
The plot however never reaches the authenticity of its characters, and remains as vague and unlikely as the film’s trailer park setting. The conflict is contrived and solutions come as easily as presenting a problem only for the characters to leave a room and find the man with the answer is outside and just happens to owe them a favour. This occurs at least twice as the plot moves along and leaves it difficult to find any real tension even towards the climax, which strives to strike an emotional chord.
You’re Ugly Too is endearingly optimistic, and while it can insist upon its own wit at times, it is often funny and if not at least it tries. Like its lead character, it is not as funny as it thinks it is, but tells its stories well.
Despite the flaws at hand here, Mark Noonan, both writer and director of this feature has received praise for his work, and rightly so. In the often bleak landscape of Irish cinema, a director willing to incorporate levity into his work is a welcome addition, and so he is very much one to watch. It’s perhaps a shame that the same can’t really be said of You’re Ugly Too.