The Guarantee – Movie Review

Guarantee - Irish Film

The Guarantee – Review by Frank L.

Director: Ian Power
Writers: Colin Murphy
Stars: Peter Coonan, David Murray, Orla Fitzgerald

Fishamble Theatre Company last year was responsible for bringing Colin Murphy’s play of the same title to audiences in relatively small venues around Dublin. The means of performance was an on-stage reading of the text by a small group of actors. But given the story the play was telling, how it was told and the importance of the story to every man woman and child in the country it made gripping theatre. As a result it then went on a national tour. Now it has been recreated as a film.

On 29th September 2008 the Irish Government issued a statement guaranteeing to all depositors and lenders to six Irish financial institutions the monies they had lent. It effectively transferred all the liabilities of these institutions onto the Irish taxpayers and became part of the public indebtedness of Ireland. The consequences for Ireland and its citizens will continue for many years.

Colin Murphy concentrates on the period surrounding the night in question with a certain amount of time given to the events immediately prior internationally such as the liquidation of Lehmann brothers on 15th September 2008. In so concentrating the focus, what is seen is the haplessness of the individuals. They were all involved to some degree in creating the financial circumstances which made the giving of the guarantee the only short-term-fix solution. They were propelled forward by a series of events which they had no means of controlling because of the dizzying heights of debt they had allowed, to a certain extent, to be accumulated by Irish bankers. It is a tragic story.

Of the cast Peter Coonan as the rough-edged David Drumm and David Murray as the unfortunate Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan, give performances which seem to be convincing. It is impossible to know whether they are accurate or not because there has not yet been any review of the events which happened on that night. It is only now six years after the event that an enquiry in public going to take place which may reveal some of the factors that led to the need to give the infamous guarantee and the immediate events surrounding it. The film uses many news clips which reminds the audience of the fast moving nature of the events. Power also tries to show what the working conditions in the Department of Finance were like leading up to the giving of the guarantee but how true to life these may be must be open to question. For these reasons Murphy’s play was more effective as its reading did not require physical attributes to be given to the scenes, they like a radio play were to be created in the head of each member of the audience. The events themselves created their own vibrancy.

What is not open to question is the enormity of the financial tsunami that was crashing towards the main participants and how hopelessly ill prepared they were to deal with it or its consequences. They appeared as pygmies but many of them had been at least part players in creating the wave which was about to engulf them and the citizenry of Ireland. The Guarantee ought to be seen if only to give citizens some information by which they can relate to the long awaited enquiry which is on the verge of commencing its work.

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