Close en­coun­ters of a most charm­ing kind

SUM­MER OF THE FLY­ING SAUCER Di­rected by Martin Duffy. Star­ring Robert Shee­han, Dan Col­ley, Joanne Ker­nan, Lor­can Cran­itch, Hugh O’Conor, John Keogh, Lalor Roddy, Jens Win­ter, Pa­trick Ber­gin

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film Reviews - MICHAEL DWYER

PG cert, lim re­lease, 89 min IR­ISH film ed­i­tor Martin Duffy turned to di­rect­ing in 1996 with The Boy from Mer­cury, an ap­peal­ing tale set in early 1960s Dublin as a young boy’s fan­tasies are fu­elled by the Flash Gor­don se­ri­als he sees in the cin­ema.

Duffy re­turns to that era for his fourth fea­ture, Sum­mer of the Fly­ing Saucer, which takes place in rural Mayo in 1967, when Danny (Robert Shee­han), a board­ing school stu­dent, re­turns home to the back­wa­ter that is Knock­sheen for the sum­mer hol­i­days.

Danny shocks his farmer fa­ther (Lor­can Cran­itch) and the con­ser­va­tive vil­lagers with his new, mildly hip­pie ap­pear­ance. This was a time when the area was so far be­hind the times that none of the lo­cals owned a TV set, and the only ra­dio was in the vil­lage pub. Or so the movie’s Swedish screen­writer, Marteinn Tho­ris­son, would have us be­lieve.

Not only that, but Danny just hap­pens to dis­cover two aliens in his back gar­den. Their space­craft has had an ac­ci­dent. Con­ve­niently, they have a lit­tle green orb that trans­lates their speech into English.

Be­friend­ing them and need­ing to ex­plain their pres­ence to the in­quis­i­tive, sus­pi­cious lo­cals, Danny says they are Pol­ish and in­tro­duces them as Janis Jo­plin and Jimi Hen­drix.

The scene is set for con­flict be­tween prej­u­dice and fear in the vil­lage and the val­ues of peace, love and un­der­stand­ing rep­re­sented by Danny and the aliens. The movie is point­lessly sad­dled with a present­day pref­ace to set Pa­trick Ber­gin’s su­per­flu­ous nar­ra­tion of the story in mo­tion.

That said, this is a light, ami­able and divert­ing com­ing-of-age fan­tasy, at­trac­tively pho­tographed by Sea­mus Deasy and cen­tred on a win­ning per­for­mance from ris­ing Ir­ish ac­tor Shee­han as Danny.

The cast, which re­mains ad­mirably dead­pan through­out, in­cludes John Keogh as a para­noid publi­can and Hugh O’Conor as a gui­tar-play­ing, would-be trendy priest, who un­der­stand­ably laments his post­ing as he sings, “Knock­sheen, Knock­sheen/Oh Lord, why me?”

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