Halal Daddy – Film Review by Frank L.
Director(s): Conor McDermottroe
Writers(s): Conor McDermottroe, Mark O’Halloran
Actors: Sarah Bolger, Colm Meaney, Art Malik, David Kross
The story begins in Sligo town where the abattoir has been shut down. Its employees join the ranks of the town’s unemployed. Foremost among them is the former manager namely one Martin Logan (Colm Meaney). His daughter Maeve (Sarah Bolger) is doing a line with Raghdan Aziz (Nikesh Patel) who has fled his strict Muslim upbringing in Bradford in order to find himself. He has two local mates Derek and Leonard who are not exactly ambitious. Raghdan’s father Amir Aziz (Art Malik) arrives into town. He is a mover and shaker. He purchases the abattoir and gives it to Raghdan with the intention of reopening it with Logan reinstated as manager and Raghdan gainfully employed. In accordance with Amir’s religious convictions the abattoir is to be operated on Halal principles. However the relationship of father and son is not good and the reopening of the abattoir is short lived. But if that episode was unlikely another unlikely use awaits the old abattoir premises with a cross section of the town involved including Raghdan, Derek, Leonard, and a German gay guy. All the while Raghdan’s relationship with Maeve blows hot and cold.
Notwithstanding the mad cappery of the script, written by MacDermottroe with Mark O’Halloran (Adam and Paul, Garage, and Viva) the new comers such as Raghdan are treated as three dimensional human beings. In fact Logan’s part is much more stereotypic. Indeed Raghdan has clearly successfully integrated into his new community in Sligo and his father’s presence in Sligo is trying to drag him back to his rejected past in Bradford. A memorable aspect of the film is the cinematography which shows the Sligo landscape and its coastline as a place of spectacular beauty. The result that Ben Bulben is liberated from its Yeatsian poetic incarceration. As in Viva, O’Halloran makes a somewhat unlikely cameo appearance. In this case as a mullah from another Western town sporting a pair of crudely repaired spectacles!
What makes someone laugh is a subjective phenomenon and difficult to predict. It is perfectly feasible to imagine that the improbability of the happenings in Halal Daddy will appeal to many even if this reviewer was not exactly laughing in the aisles.