The Flag – Film Review by Fran Winston
Directed by: Declan Recks
Starring: Pat Shortt, Moe Dunford, Ruth Bradley, Brian Gleeson
In cinemas October 14th
Despite the fact that we are a fierce funny nation, the one medium we always seem to struggle with on the big screen is comedy. For every Waking Ned there is a Speed Dating and on the whole we just can’t seem to transfer our natural humour and wit into a feasible feature length film. Therefore I did approach this with trepidation. Despite the presence of comic stalwart Pat Shortt I really wasn’t sure what to expect.
What I got was a refreshingly funny farce that warms the cockles and leaves you with a smile on your face. Shortt plays Harry, an Irishman living in London who has hit some hard times. When he finds a letter from his grandfather claiming that he raised the flag over the GPO during the 1916 Rising and that it is now housed in an English army barracks he finds a new purpose in life. Determined to honour his grandfathers legacy and return the historical flag to its rightful home he assembles a motley crew and concocts an elaborate plan to reclaim the flag for Ireland.
This may lack the special effects and big action scenes prominent in most of the other current releases but what it has in spades is heart. Shortt and Dunford actually make a great double act and they have some hilarious scenes together. Although most of the characters are ridiculously OTT and based in caricature, the actors all play it straight which helps give it a gravitas despite the slapstick nature of the comedy. A couple of scenes that could have come across as unnecessarily crude even manage to raise a giggle thanks to the great performances and some thoughtful direction and editing.
This actually feels more like a movie made in the 1970s. It throws political correctness to the wind and puts the characters in ridiculous situations simply to generate a laugh and it also has numerous plot holes. But because of this it has a charm and naivety lacking in a lot of other comedies. It’s the kind of movie that really shouldn’t work and if it was made by anyone but an Irish team it could easily have descended into Paddywhackery. However it instead comes across as heart-warming and you really hope that the hapless Harry manages to achieve his goal.