Michael Inside – Film Review by Frank L.
Writtten and directed by Frank Berry
Stars: Dafhyd Flynn, Lalor Roddy, Moe Dunford
Frank Berry (I Used To Live Here 2014) portrays the life of young 18 year old Michael McCrea (Dafhyd Flynn) whose mother is dead of an overdose and whose father is in jail. He was brought up by his paternal grandfather Francis McCrea (Lalor Roddy) who has done his best. They live in a housing estate where crime is part of the social mix. Michael left school early and has worked in various menial jobs but he has emerging ambitions to pursue a social care course. He also has managed to steer clear of crime. He has not come to the attention of the guards.
On the estate he is approached by a guy to look after a package. He reluctantly agrees to do so. The inevitable happens. The house is raided, the package is found and Michael is arrested. He is sentenced to a short prison sentence. But even though the sentence is short it is still sufficient for Michael to become further entangled with the perpetrators of crime who have their own effective networks operating inside. He comes to the attention of one David (Mo Dunford), a nasty piece of goods, who ingratiates himself with Michael as a sort of protector but the protection comes at a price. Michael discovers that the criminal world which he had unwittingly entered operates within the prison. He also discovers that it will continue to operate all around him on his release. The drug gang and their associates do not forget.
Berry gradually reveals how the lives of Michael and Francis are upended. Without any histrionics, he shows how the short prison sentence rather than helping Michael contributes to his becoming more immersed in crime. The performances of Flynn, Roddy and Dunford are all multi-faceted. In particular Flynn exudes an impressive sense of standing somewhat aloof from the pressures which surround him but gradually finds himself being overwhelmed by those forces. It is a fine piece of acting. He is the ideal actor to portray the chronicling of social disadvantage in the under resourced housing estates which have proliferated throughout the country. Berry’s well observed characters make for an unsettling and powerful story.
This is a film which mirrors certain aspects of Irish society. Amongst other things it highlights the fact that a custodial sentence, even short in duration, may do more harm than good. Ireland is fortunate to have a film maker and story teller as respectful of his surroundings as Berry is. Anyone who is interested in the social structures of Ireland today will be engaged by Michael Inside. It is a film well worth seeing.