The Delinquent Season – Film Review
Director: Mark O’Rowe
Writer: Mark O’Rowe
Stars: Cillian Murphy, Andrew Scott, Eva Birthistle, Catherine Walker
O’Rowe has previously written film scripts such as “Intermission” (2003) and “Perrier’s Bounty” (2009) and of course many successful plays for the stage. This film, however, is his directorial debut. It is set in the present in the environs of a well-established, older Dublin suburb. The protagonists are two married couples; Jim (Cillian Murphy) and Danielle (Eva Birtistle) are one couple and Chris (Andrew Scott) and Yvonne (Catherine Walker) the other. They both have two children who are still kids. It all starts with a suitably mundane supper party when Chris flies off the handle at Yvonne for what seems very little reason. There are cracks in their relationship but the cause is a secret which Chris has not shared with anyone, including Yvonne. She cannot understand his behaviour. However, Jim and Danielle are friends who listen. It is from this basis the story unfolds with an unlikely fifth character Orla (Lydia McGuinness), a waitress in a fast food restaurant with whom Jim has an argument, thrown into the mix.
The story is heavy on dialogue and there is a slight suspicion that the tale would have worked better on the stage. The camera work often jumps from one character to the other as they continue their conversation which makes for a somewhat jerky style of storytelling. But O’Rowe does drag you into the dramas of the relatively comfortably middle class life – a group which does not receive much attention, sympathetic or otherwise, from the artistic community. None of the four characters are particularly admirable but in their attributes and failings, they are human. Orla represents a counter balance to this well regulated society.
O’Rowe has chosen to enter into the world of the Dublin bourgeoisie by means of a pair of married couples. It is a device which has been used very often in the world of French cinema. His knowledge of Dublin has given him a confident touch in relation to the locations he has chosen to evoke the particular suburban society he seeks to reveal. He is brilliantly served by Birtistle, Murphy, Scottt and Walker in creating this strained quartet and McGuinness as the outlier hits the right note.
O’Rowe focuses on the world of comfortable, suburban Ireland, with its emotional highs and lows that are rarely investigated on the stage or screen. But it too operates with human relationships which are eternally fragile and subject to buffeting. The ending could have taken place a little earlier than O’Rowe has chosen to do. He spins it out over the last ten minutes. That said none of the four principals are particularly likeable but O’Rowe does keep you very much engaged in their fate.