I Used To Live Here
(2014) 12.05pm, Sunday, RTÉ 2
“It’s better to be quiet than to say something stupid”
Frank Berry’s superb debut feature is a ctionalised account of a very real problem: the issue of suicide clusters that can develop within a group of young people from the same peer group (notably on Facebook) or within the one community. In this case, the community is Killinarden in Tallaght, from where the director assembled his mostly non professional cast.
The story focuses on 13-year-old Amy (Jordanne Jones), a schoolgirl coping with issues a ecting all young teens (school, spots, boys) but also dealing with particular issues of her own. These include the death of her mother three years previously and the reappearance of her father’s ex girlfriend, complete with a young baby in tow. Her outlook on life takes on a darker tone when a local boy of her acquaintance takes his own life. Filmed in Killanarden on a budget that would scarcely cover a TV ad, I Used To Live Here is a powerful, poignant and important drama. Rather than focus (as would be the norm in such dramas) on the aftermath of suicide, the movie looks at the conditions that lead up to such an act, conditions which many are unable to recognise until it is too late.
In choosing his mostly amateur cast, Frank Berry struck gold. Young Jordanne Jones in particular is a revelation. The entire lm rests on her slender shoulders but she carries the burden with ease. No wonder she continues to have a ne acting career. Also impressive are James Kelly as her understanding but overburdened father, and young Dafhyd Flynn (so good in the director’s next drama, Michael Inside) as a school pal who is dealing with his own stresses. The movie industry has a lot to answer for when it comes to portraying issues of mental health on screen. Movies such as I Used to Live Here prove you can make thoughtful, powerful drama without having to resort to ill-advised negative stereotypes. And for that, Frank Berry and his cast deserve great credit.