His­tory too pris­tine

WILD GOOSE LODGE ★★ Di­rected by Paul Mac­ar­dle and Wil­liam P Martin. Star­ring Dave Duffy, Tom Muck­ian, Fin­barr Furey, Deirdre Rice, Naseen Mor­gan. 12A cert, gen re­lease, 135 min

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

Ah here. It would be un­kind not to ap­plaud the ef­forts of all con­cerned in bring­ing this tale of a fa­mous his­tor­i­cal atroc­ity to do­mes­tic screens. Work­ing on a mi­nus­cule bud­get with the as­sis­tance of spir­ited am­a­teur ac­tors, Wil­liam Martin and Paul McAr­dle have re­con­structed the tale of an 1816 ar­son at­tack on Wild Goose Lodge in Co Louth.

The film has “labour of love” wa­ter­marked on ev­ery one of its many, many frames. The re­search is on the screen and in the mouths of the ac­tors. Sadly, Wild Goose Lodge is a real chore to sit through. There is, per­haps, a Machi­avel­lian strat­egy afoot. The thing is so in­ter­minably over­long – 135 min­utes, lava­tory fans – that a kind of Stock­holm Syn­drome even­tu­ally sets in. One ends up a lit­tle in love with one’s re­lent­less cap­tor.

If you are not fa­mil­iar with the back­ground, then fear not. The char­ac­ters make sure to ex­plain it to you (and each other) at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity. This is the time of the vi­o­lent rad­i­cals known as the Rib­bon­men.

We be­gin with a lo­cal farmer be­ing har­ried for in­form­ing on vil­lagers who have bro­ken into his home. The lo­cal priest (a strong Dave Duffy of Fair City fame) works hard to main­tain or­der, but a ma­lign school­teacher (Tom Muck­ian with eye­brows aloft) is in­tent on wreak­ing fiery re­venge on the sup­posed col­lab­o­ra­tors. No won­der the cler­gy­man keeps knock­ing back whiskey like Lloyd Bridges in Air­plane!

Much of Wild Goose Lodge is in the genre of Folk Park Cin­ema. Char­ac­ters de­liver stiff pe­riod di­a­logue in box-fresh cos­tumes while stand­ing by cot­tages that are slightly too well white­washed or within bar­racks that are a lit­tle too care­fully dusted. One half ex­pects the cam­era to pan left and dis­cover a coach-load of tourists snap­ping pho­to­graphs for the folks back in Ohio. The de­cent lo­cals eat stew and chase geese round trees. The Brits and evil Ir­ish con­vey their malev­o­lence by re­fus­ing to look at one an­other and spout­ing their lines to empty space in a down­stage quad­rant.

Enough un­kind­ness. Wild Goose Lodge may not be much of a film, but it’s a com­mend­able ex­er­cise in com­mu­nity co-op­er­a­tion. The story is worth re­mem­ber­ing. Fin­bar Furey’s orig­i­nal mu­sic is gen­uinely lovely. And I greatly ap­pre­ci­ated the per­for­mances by Stumpie and Grumpie, two charis­matic pigs who re­ceive de­served men­tion in the cred­its.

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