Ir­ish re­al­ism with­out the grit and grub­bi­ness

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - TARA BRADY

TWICE SHY Di­rected by Tom Ryan. Star­ring Shane Mur­ray Cor­co­ran, Iseult Casey, Ardal O’Han­lon, Paul Ro­nan, Pat Shortt. Cert 16, lim­ited re­lease, 77mins

An in­verted Hiber­nian Be­fore Sun­rise, Twice Shy fol­lows Andy (Shane Mur­ray-Cor­co­ran) and Mag­gie (Iseult Casey), a young Ir­ish cou­ple, as they travel to Eng­land with the in­ten­tion of ter­mi­nat­ing Mag­gie’s preg­nancy. Flash­backs chron­i­cle a very Ir­ish ro­mance: con­ver­sa­tions about the Leav­ing Cert, the big Debs night, their first hol­i­day, and, fi­nally, the break down of their re­la­tion­ship as univer­sity life, new friends and old fam­ily prob­lems come be­tween them.

At home, Andy and Mag­gie’s lives are de­fined by two very dif­fer­ent dads. The wise­crack­ing Pat Shortt, who, we think, knows (or sus­pects) more about his daugh­ter’s go­ing away than he is will­ing to let on. Another vet­eran, Ardal O’Han­lon, qui­etly raises ques­tions about de­pres­sion and duty of care with his turn as Andy’s psy­cho­log­i­cally frag­ile fa­ther.

It says some­thing pro­found, and pos­si­bly dis­com­bob­u­lat­ing, that the nice folks at Ire­land’s clas­si­fi­ca­tion of­fice felt obliged – and with good rea­son – to slap Tom Ryan’s heart­warm­ing sopho­more fea­ture with a 16 cer­tifi­cate and a note: “Abor­tion theme, sen­si­tively de­picted.”

The strange, heated polemic that ex­ists around the eighth amend­ment to the Ir­ish con­sti­tu­tion makes the sub­ject im­pos­si­ble to broach with­out fear of for­fei­ture and fire­works. And yet Ryan, a bril­liant young film-maker from Tip­per­ary, has not only found an even-tem­pered way to cin­e­mat­i­cally touch on the mat­ter, he has also wres­tled back the no­tion of “start­ing a con­ver­sa­tion”, a phrase that long ago seemed lost to sin­is­ter ex­trem­ists of var­i­ous stripes.

Twice Shy, as the Ne­nagh-born filmmaker has noted in an in­ter­view with The Ir­ish Times, is not “an abor­tion movie”. The film does not, un­like Gil­lian Rob­spierre’s Ob­vi­ous Child or TV’s Jane the Vir­gin, de­pict or nor­malise the pro­ce­dure: it merely nor­malises the idea that one can travel to the UK. Andy and Mag­gie dis­cuss var­i­ous op­tions and what-ifs, but stan­dard abor­tion­re­lated rhetoric is not re- hearsed within Ryan’s care­fully ob­served, nat­u­ral­is­tic script.

Kevin Minogue’s cin­e­matog­ra­phy makes var­i­ous lo­ca­tions in Dublin and Ryan’s na­tive Ne­nagh look splen­did. There’s a lovely, easy chem­istry be­tween im­pres­sive new­comer Casey and Mur­ray-Cor­co­ran, whose youth­ful ca­reer cred­its stretch back to An­gela’s Ashes (1999). Their del­i­cate ro­mance fits neatly be­side the di­rec­tor’s ¤950-bud­geted im­mi­gra­tion-themed de­but fea­ture Tram­po­line, and such re­cent in­die fare as Ger­ard Walsh’s South.

There’s a new vogue in Ir­ish cin­ema for re­al­ism with­out the as­so­ci­ated grit and grub­bi­ness. Stay tuned. Ryan is one to watch and then some.

Shane Mur­ray-Cor­co­ran and Iseult Casey in Twice Shy

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