A classic road trip conducted by three quirky brothers delivers a heartfelt message with laughs too
Featured at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City in its world debut this indie film puts it all together. This is the debut feature film of virtually the entire cast and crew from director and writer through the main actors. Although the resulting film is neither a laugh riot nor a power blow to the tear ducts, it is as clean and heartfelt as they come. A thoroughbred of an indie production.
The three brothers Noel, Paudie and Scwally are watching their father slowly approach death at the hands of a creeping, clawing wasting disease. Presented to us at the beginning of the film it casts a pall over the proceedings to be sure. This is a film about moving on and it is a film about family pulling together in hard times. Families don’t pull together in hard times because they want to. They pull together because they have no choice. Although each of the children tries to go it alone in their own way they are compacted by the gravity of their grief into a unit.
By the end if the film the audience, too, becomes part of that unit.
Noel is the oldest at age 17. He has assumed the responsibility for running the family even though he appears barely capable of running his own life. His younger brother Paudie at 11 years old has twice the chutzpah and three times the cleverness of his older brother but is as naïve as any 11 year old can be. Youngest son 11-year-old Scwally has retreated into a permanent fantasy world of bizarre costumes and Star Wars light swords in his effort to deal with the grief crushing the family. Timmy Creed plays Noel, Paul Courtney plays Paudie and T.J. Griffin plays Scwally.
The screenplay by William Collins is simple allowing first time director Paul Fraser to concentrate on getting good performances out of the boys in what must have been a very low budget film. In spite of no sets, lighting or costumes to speak of the production values are good and the movie comes off as a professional effort in spite of the lack of experience of the cast and crew.
The Noel accidentally breaks his dying father’s watch the three are forced into a mission impossible to replace the watch. The road trip takes place in the predictable broken down van and pits the kids against a variety of obstacles real, imagined and some of their own making. The more their anger and frustration pushes them apart the more their love and neediness pulls them back together.
The cinematography is basic shots of the vans and the boys usually in exterior locations with low light. Many of the shots are at night and the director uses this to underscore the darkness of the death casting an inky shadow over the youngsters. In the end they are forced to deal with their loss in order to see the light of day.
Helped by the kindness of strangers, they are also victimized by strangers, bad luck and their own negative attitudes. Their taking of the van without permission forces the requisite urgency onto their trip that develops into do-or-die. They know what awaits them at home and in the end they have only each other to rely on against all odds.
Great fresh and spunky soundtrack by composer Gary Lightbody who is also the front man for the rock band Snow Patrol and Jacknife Lee an Irish Grammy winner who has worked with U2, R.E.M, Weezer and others. Solid supporting work in minor roles by Kate Ashfield, Don Wycherley and Sarah Greene.
Directed by: Paul Fraser
Written by: William Collins (writer)
Starring: Timmy Creed, Paul Courtney and T.J. Griffin
Release: Tribeca Film Festival World Premier April 23, 2010
MPAA: Rated R for a rape scene, violent images, some graphic nudity and language
Runtime: 90 minutes