Twice Shy

From the Land of the Moon

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - CINEMA - AINE O'CON­NOR AINE O’CON­NOR HILARY A WHITE

Cert: 16; Now show­ing

It’s way past the time that some­one should have made a film about abor­tion. The topic that has bub­bled un­der and over for decades has re­mained re­mark­ably undis­cussed in Irish cin­ema.

Un­til now. Tom Ryan di­rects his own screen­play, a short, sweet and to-the-point drama that han­dles a po­ten­tially dif­fi­cult topic re­ally well with­out fuss or melo­drama.

Mag­gie (Iseult Casey) tells her dad (Pat Shortt) that she is head­ing up to Dublin with Andy (Shane Mur­ray-cor­co­ran) and they take the scenic route from Tip­per­ary to Dublin via their en­tire back-story.

Shy Andy fan­cied Mag­gie long be­fore invit­ing her to the debs’ but the wait was worth it and in col­lege in Dublin they en­joy a happy re­la­tion­ship. But Andy has is­sues to deal with in his fa­ther (Ardal O’han­lon), is­sues about which he doesn’t con­fide in Mag­gie and the se­crets don’t lead any­where good.

The sheer smooth­ness of the older ac­tors does high­light a cer­tain stilt­ed­ness in some of the younger per­form­ers but oth­er­wise it’s a very fea­si­ble, be­liev­able de­pic­tion of the po­ten­tial re­al­ity for many peo­ple.

The re­la­tion­ship be­tween Andy and his dad is per­haps the most af­fect­ing one in the film and there are lots of lay­ers even though it comes in at un­der 90 min­utes.

In­ter­est­ingly, it felt like it could have been set any­where in the last 30 years and I re­ally liked the tone of the film and how it dealt with the sub­ject.

Cert 16. Now show­ing in IFI

Ni­cole Gar­cia’s tremen­dously French ver­sion of the Ital­ian novel Mal di Pi­etre (the lit­eral trans­la­tion, ‘Kid­ney Stones’, lacks romance) trades heav­ily on the no­tion of great love equals great pain. And who bet­ter to chan­nel a love-tor­tured hero­ine than Mar­ion Cotil­lard?

Gabrielle (Cotil­lard) is a young wo­man (MC looks too old for this part) in ru­ral Provence in the 1950s. She has a huge crush on the lo­cal mar­ried teacher and when he doesn’t re­cip­ro­cate, she re­acts melo­dra­mat­i­cally.

Sens­ing her daugh­ter’s im­petu­ousity will lead to the worst pos­si­ble out­come, sex­ual ex­pres­sion, the mother pays a Cata­lan labourer Jose (Alex Bren­de­muhl) to marry Gabrielle, who agrees, be­cause her choice is Jose or an in­sti­tu­tion.

Gabrielle’s trade-off is that there will be no sex, so Jose fre­quents pros­ti­tutes in­stead, un­til she de­cides she can do the same job for the same fee.

Un­for­tu­nately, and to its detri­ment, the story aban­dons this rich po­ten­tial in favour of a love story with a dy­ing man (Louis Gar­rel) who ful­fils ev­ery tragic hero cliche. Also, Gabrielle is essen­tially self­ish, and ex­plor­ing her ad­dic­tion to be­ing a tragic hero­ine might have been more in­ter­est­ing than study­ing her ac­tu­ally be­ing a tragic hero­ine. The end­ing is pretty ridicu­lous but over­all it’s en­gag­ing if taken as melo­drama.

Slack Bay

Cert: 15A; Se­lected cinemas

Rarely does a film see-saw be­tween te­dium and in­spi­ra­tion quite as wildly as this truly orig­i­nal Cannes con­tender from writer-di­rec­tor Bruno Du­mont.

Just as you near the end of your pa­tience with an item of slap­stick farce, some­thing weird and won­der­ful straight out of a Kevin Mc­sh­erry paint­ing comes into the frame to trans­fix you.

In­deed, you’d never con­fuse Slack Bay’s aes­thetic for any other. Du­mont bleaches the colours slightly and ex­ag­ger­ates the small­est idio­syn­cra­sies of his dotty cast of car­i­ca­tures by the sum­mery sand dunes of north­ern France in 1910.

The bour­geois Van Peteghem fam­ily — hus­band and wife Fabrice Lu­chini and Va­le­ria Bruni Tedeschi, ex-wife Juli­ette Binoche and her cross-dress­ing son — are on sum­mer hol­i­days.

Two de­tec­tives (a more sur­re­al­ist take on Lau­rel and Hardy) have also come down from Calais to in­ves­ti­gate dis­ap­pear­ances that may or may not be linked to a twisted lo­cal ru­ral fam­ily.

The shenani­gans os­cil­late from dark and dis­torted to joy­ously daft but they may prove too wil­fully ec­cen­tric for some view­ers. Oth­ers, how­ever, may find de­light in such gay aban­don.

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