Love in the time of crackly ny­lon

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Filmreviews -

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

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