Timely Ir­ish polemic about abor­tion

The Irish Times - - Friday Life Film & Music - DON­ALD CLARKE

DIVE ★★★ Di­rected by Daniel Holmes. Star­ring Vanessa Scha­ef­fer, Em­met Ryan. Club, lim­ited re­lease, 85 mins

Ar­riv­ing just in time to en­lighten and in­form, Daniel Holmes’s mod­estly bud­geted drama high­lights the pres­sures im­posed on Ir­ish women seek­ing abor­tion in the first half of 2018 (and pos­si­bly beyond). It’s a hum­ble sort of film. But it has a sin­cer­ity and fo­cus that ar­gues for at­ten­tion.

Vanessa Scha­ef­fer plays Tara, a young swim­mer whose chances of an Olympic spot are threat­ened when she dis­cov­ers that she is pregnant. As is so of­ten the case, she feels un­able to talk to fam­ily and can only con­fide in sim­i­larly broke friends. An en­counter with a young man (Em­met Ryan), ap­par­ently dis­traught af­ter his young daugh­ter has been taken away to Am­s­ter­dam, pro­vides her with sup­port and en­cour­age­ment. The two soon re­alise that they have a com­mon cause.

The picture is very clear in its lay­ing out of the me­chan­ics of the cur­rent ar­range­ment. None other than Tara Flynn, a prominent fig­ure in the Re­peal campaign, turns up as a sym­pa­thetic preg­nancy ad­viser tied down by the State’s cruel and ec­cen­tric leg­is­la­tion.

“It feels like ev­ery­thing’s been turned off ... I’m on au­topi­lot,” a trou­bled Scha­ef­fer tells her. She learns that it will cost about ¤1,000 to travel and have the pro­ce­dure; no small sum for a woman of that age.

There is lit­tle ques­tion that Dive is driven by an agenda. But its rough charm and the clean­ness of its per­for­mances help dis­tract from the un­der­ly­ing polemic.

Scha­ef­fer grabs the op­por­tu­nity and makes a fully fleshed hu­man of the ti­tle char­ac­ter. The cir­cling cast are equally strong in a film de­vel­oped by the in­no­va­tive Fea­ture Film School. Good luck to all who sail in it.

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It’s a hum­ble sort of film. But it has a sin­cer­ity and fo­cus that ar­gues for at­ten­tion

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