A film fixer-up­per

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - DON­ALD CLARKE

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.

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