A film fixer-upper
DOLLHOUSE ★★★ Directed by Kirsten Sheridan. Starring Seana Kerslake, Johnny Ward, Kate Stanley Brennan, Jack Reynor, Deirdre O’Kane 16 cert, limited release, 99 min
Kirsten Sheridan’s third feature begins with a group of (apparently) working-class teenagers breaking into a house in the view-rich Millionaires’ Republic of Dalkey. Foreshadowing the destruction to come, they find a way of blaring out In the Hall of the Mountain King (very Sorcerer’s Apprentice) while trashing the furniture and rooting through the storage cupboards.
Later on, while recovering from their pillaging, they happen upon information that alters our perception of their composition. The narrative spins off in a different direction. It’s a promising start, but it transpires that the pattern is to be repeated with furious – and ultimately exhausting – enthusiasm.
Some more conspicuously improvised chaos ensues and then the doorbell rings. It’s Jack Reynor, star of What Richard Did, playing a less clued-in version of the character he essayed in that film. The kids shift between taunting him and allowing him to join in the fun. Then something else surprising happens.
Sheridan assembles an excellent cast and invites them to devise their own plots and characters. Conversations about the nature of God lead onto fiestas of creative swearing. Then something else surprising happens.
Featuring a good, fidgety score by Howie B, Dollhouse deserves credit for breaking with conventional film-making templates. Unfortunately, it never coalesces into a digestible whole, instead playing like what it is: a series of workshops strung together with no concern for pacing, structure or character development.
Still, it’s an honourable disappointment that points Irish cinema in a worthwhile direction.