I Used to Live Here – Movie Review by Frank L
Director: Frank Berry
Writer: Frank Berry
Stars: Jordanne Jones, Dafhyd Flynn, James Kelly
Set in west Dublin from where the cast of non-actors live, Frank Berry (Ballymun Lullaby) reveals the world of a thirteen year old girl, Amy (Jordanne Jones) as she comes to terms with some of the realities of leaving childhood and being on the cusp of an adult world. In her case she has the additional difficulty that her mother had died approximately three years earlier of cancer. She has a collection of school friends and a father who tries his best but he too has his difficulties, not least his need for female companionship. Into this milieu, is then added the death of a local boy by suicide, the world of Amy and her friends is knocked out of kilter. She finds herself in her own emotional lonely spot and the fate of the local boy is not far from her thoughts as she grapples with the ebb and flow of her life.
The film has been made in collaboration with Headstrong, The National Centre for Youth Mental Health. Frank Berry mines the strands of the everyday humdrum reality of most lives which is such a large part of getting through the day. He reveals how a small incident which appears inconsequential or of little consequence can escalate. How it can eat at a young person’s sense of self-worth. He tries to show that inter-generational support is necessary for the young in order to stay stable. While the suburban scape against which the action is filmed has a certain grimness, the characters possess many of the current modern badges of social acceptability such as mobile phones. One of the difficulties he faces in revealing the reality is that the language in which his characters speak is often rapid and not that easy for a third party (namely the audience) to catch. But in some ways this barrier of understanding underlines the dificulties which these adolescents need to circumnavigate in their everyday existence.
Frank Berry is to be congratulated in finding Jordanne Jones to play Amy. At all times she is convincing especially when she is alone. It is a serious performance. All the supporting cast who are mostly non-actors who participated in the making of this film are to be applauded. It is not an easy film but the life it portrays is not easy either. Social realism is at work.