Pre­cious mis­ad­ven­ture

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - COVER STORY - DON­ALD CLARKE

the other girls sat there with ques­tions, ques­tions, ques­tions. So if you don’t an­swer you’re a bitch. And if you do, the next week you’d hear, ‘What a bitch, I wish she’d stop go­ing on about it all the time.’”

She re­mains in con­tact with two school­yard friends. But that’s not be­cause of any airs and graces: “It’s such a fan­tasy that you’ll al­ways stay friends with the girls at school. You were thrown to­gether be­cause you share a post­code. Of­ten, you’re mak­ing the best of a bad bunch. Best days of your life? What bulls**t.”

Unseemly com­ments

School was tricky, but it was a pic­nic com­pared to so­cial me­dia, a place where unseemly com­ments come to fes­ter. “I of­ten look at Twit­ter and think: ‘I’m pretty sure if you said this to my face you could get ar­rested for a very long time,’” she says.

The fourth es­tate, mean­while, are apt to ex­press dis­ap­proval that the young­ster left school be­fore her GCSE ex­ams. “I hate when peo­ple say that I’m un­e­d­u­cated,” says the ac­tor (she had a tu­tor on the set of Game of

Thrones). “I’ve been given this amaz­ing op­por­tu­nity. I’d prob­a­bly be work­ing in an of­fice now. I’ve got my toe in the door and I am not mov­ing my foot. And I’m not sorry. I re­alised leav­ing school that I was leav­ing be­hind a lot of peo­ple who wanted to see me fall.”

It’s not easy spend­ing one’s most hor­mon­ally-er­ratic years in the lime­light. And while Wil­liams isn’t about to point a gi­ant foam fin­ger at Robin Thicke, she un­der­stands why Mi­ley Cyrus would.

“It’s very hard grow­ing up in pub­lic,” she says. “You’re go­ing through all these bod­ily changes, you’re laugh­ing one minute and cry­ing the next. I un­der­stand why some girls want to make a big ges­ture with a foam fin­ger. I’m more about drip feed. I re­mem­ber the first time I swore on Twit­ter. But once you’ve done it, you can do it again.”

Gold is out now on gen­eral re­lease

GOLD ★★★★ Di­rected by Niall Heery Star­ring James Nes­bitt, Maisie Wil­liams, David Wil­mot, Kerry Con­don, Steven Mack­in­tosh, David McSav­age 15A cert, lim­ited re­lease, 88 min

Niall Heery be­lat­edly fol­lows up Small En­gine Re­pair, his 2006 mum­blecore crit­i­cal hit, with a slightly less off-cen­tre com­edy that makes imag­i­na­tive use of a smash­ing cast. The story skirts tragedy on its leisurely pas­sage from mishap to mis­ad­ven­ture, but Gold re­mains the sort of pic­ture you want to hug in­dul­gently to a wel­com­ing bo­som. It gives hu­man­ism a good name.

The con­sis­tently mag­nif­i­cent David Wil­mot – see him also in this week’s re­lease of ‘71 – plays a trou­bled, some­times sui­ci­dal, dolt named Ray, long es­tranged from his acer­bic daugh­ter Ab­bie (Maisie Wil­liams) and her plucky mother Alice (Kerry Con­don). The film be­gins with him mak­ing an un­wel­come ap­pear­ance at the fam­ily home for the first time in 12 years. In the in­terim, Alice has hooked up with the self-im­por­tant, mildly de­luded Frank (James Nes­bitt), Ray’s for­mer gym teacher, and Ab­bie has de­vel­oped am­bi­tions to be­come an ath­lete. De­spite good in­ten- tions, Ray man­ages to bring noth­ing but dis­rup­tion to the house­hold. He helps Ab­bie buy per­for­mance-en­hanc­ing drugs. He makes moves on his old squeeze. If the poor fel­low weren’t so ami­ably vul­ner­a­ble he would be a pos­i­tive vil­lain.

There’s not a great deal of plot to the piece. But it gets by on strong per­for­mances and con­vinc­ing char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion. We have had enough of twinkly Nes­bitt to last a life­time, so it’s a de­light to see him play some­body more hard-edged and less lib­eral with the glad hand. Wil­liams, Arya Stark in Game of Thrones, masters the Ir­ish ac­cent and over­pow­ers all with teenage fury. The film be­longs, how­ever, to Wil­mot. Few other ac­tors can man­age the benev­o­lent con­fu­sion he brings to so many of his comic roles. At times here, he sug­gests Michel Si­mon in Renoir’s Boudu Saved from Drown­ing. Just for an in­stant, he’s Ter­ence Stamp in Pa­solini’s Te­o­rema. But he’s nicer than ei­ther and the film is far warmer than those com­par­isons sug­gest. Like Ray, Gold de­serves to be given a chance.

Above: Maisie Wil­liams in Niall Heery’s Gold. Left: As Arya Stark along­side Rory McCann in Game of Thrones

Emi­nently hug­gable: Maisie Wil­liams and David Wil­mot

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