Love in the time of crackly nylon
32A Directed by Marian Quinn. Starring Ailish McCarthy, Sophie Jo Wasson, Orla Brady, Orla Long, Riona Smith, Marian Quinn, Shane McDaid, Jared Harris, Aidan Quinn 15A cert, IFI, Dublin; Carrick Cineplex, Leitrim; Boyle/Carrick Cineplex, Roscommon; Gaiety, Sligo, 89 min THE FAMILIAR cliches of the coming-of-age film fairly leap out at you in Marian Quinn’s debut feature. Indeed, this touching, dreamily photographed picture, which premiered at last year’s Galway Film Fleadh, arrives only a few weeks after another film, Angus, Thongs & Perfect Snogging, also had its female characters fret over the correct approach to the romantic kiss. 32A goes on to drag out the old chestnut that sees two young lovers lie on their backs and ponder the stars. And there’s more where that came from.
Never mind. These films are, I suppose, now part of an established genre and, like the western or the musical, they have earned the right to cling to certain tropes and conventions.
Quinn, whose famous brother Aidan pops up in a supporting role, has elected to tell a story about a young girl coming to terms with encroaching adulthood in 1970s Dublin. Charming newcomer Ailish McCarthy stars as Maeve Brennan, a teenager whose regret at the slow development of her bosoms (32A refers to a bra size, not a bus) is in danger of developing into an obsession.
While her mother (Orla Brady) spends a few days in hospital, Maeve experiments with pot, swoons over boys and tries to make sense of her uncommunicative father (Quinn). After making a bad decision, poor old Maeve, more fragile than she likes to pretend, falls out with her pals and faces certain uncomfortable truths.
A few minor melodramas announce themselves – what is the perennially sinister Jared Harris doing lurking in that cab? But the film is mostly concerned with establishing the texture of lower middle-class Irish life in 1979 and with realising the awful uncertainties of young adulthood.
On those terms, 32A, which makes good use of its modest budget, is a success. Crackly nylon, liquorice allsorts and low-level melancholy bounce about with the unpredictability of newly charged hormones. You remember how it was. DONALD CLARKE
Darling Dub: newcomer Ailish McCarthy as Maeve