All heart, if a lit­tle bit springy

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

The bel­low­ing TV sales­man – some­times a “King”, of­ten “mad” – was a sta­ple of pub­li­cac­cess tele­vi­sion long be­fore YouTube made broad­cast­ers of us all. No do­mes­tic show-off does it more oddly than Michael “Mat­tress Mick” Flynn.

The joke, of course, is that he’s very much not a suave Amer­i­can huck­ster. Grey hair dis­tressed like Bride of Franken­stein in a wind tunnel, each tooth find­ing an­gles un­known to Eu­clid, Mick is just bad enough to make his videos cult clas­sics.

Colm Quinn could have had a lot of cheap fun with a doc­u­men­tary on the di­van flog­ger. There are, in­deed, a great many laughs to be had in his charm­ing film. The un­end­ingly plucky Brian Traynor – who, dressed as an am­bu­la­tory mat­tress, bad­gers po­ten­tial pun­ters out­side the Dublin ware­house – of­fers a di­vert­ing cho­rus through­out the film. The pro­mo­tional videos – fea­tur­ing aw­ful raps and dire par­o­dies of Back to the Fu­ture – de­serve the camp sta­tus they’ve ac­crued among peo­ple who have no in­ter­est in buy­ing beds.

Quinn has, how­ever, made the fo­cus of his film a very hu­mane story about poverty, am­bi­tion and ev­ery­day strug­gle. As the film tells it, Mick’s me­dia strat­egy is the cre­ation of the de­ter­mined Paul Kelly. Fight­ing to keep his fam­ily to­gether in in­ner-city Dublin, jug­gling video gigs with the dole, Kelly walks us through a tough life lived un­der the con­stant shadow of debt.

One strand of the film ad­dresses cre­ative ten­sions be­tween Mick and Paul: the boss quite cor­rectly ve­toes plans for an ex­cess of dolly birds in one video; Paul ar­gues for tol­er­a­ble pro­duc­tion stan­dards. An­other sub-strand con­cerns a slick ri­val edg­ing into the op­er­a­tion. All nar­ra­tive lines are con­nected by a larger arc con­cern­ing Paul’s quest for an of­fi­cial con­tract that will get him off “the so­cial”.

It is here that the film’s few prob­lems lie. That struc­tured move­ment to­wards a cher­ished ob­jec­tive feels too or­dered and too con­trived. Real life rarely has the be­gin­nings, mid­dles and (cru­cially) ends we expect from a ro­man­tic com­edy.

None of which is to sug­gest any­thing de­picted here didn’t hap­pen. Mat­tress Mick feels like an es­sen­tial snap­shot of an ig­nored ur­ban sec­tor. Buy, buy, buy be­fore all the tick­ets are gone!

Cult clas­sic: Michael “Mat­tress Mick” Flynn

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