Dublin Oldschool – Film Review

Dublin Oldschool – Film Review by Frank L.
Director: Dave Tynan
Writers: Emmet Kirwan, Dave Tynan
Stars: Emmet Kirwan, Ian Lloyd Anderson, Seána Kerslake

Tynan has co-written the script with Emmet Kirwan who wrote the original play as a two hander which first saw the light of day in the Dublin Fringe when it was a prize winner. Emmet Kirwan played Jason and Ian Lloyd Anderson was his brother Daniel as well as a multiplicity of other characters. Tynan has now collaborated with Kirwan to create the script to transfer the play to the screen.

The world in which Jason lives is inner city Dublin where his friends and associates are to a greater or lesser extent familiar with drugs in all their variety. He just about still has a girl friend Gemma (Seána Kerslake). He is holding his life together but the precipice is not far way. By chance, he meets his long lost brother Daniel in the back lanes of the inner city whose life had plummeted to the depths. Daniel has elevated himself a little from those depths but even if he is in recovery, he still is in a more challenging place than Jason. Apart from this encounter between Jason and Daniel, the film has a minimalist story line. Its theme is to create the ambiance of the paramount need-for-drugs world in which Jason and his friends move. All of the acting by Kirwan, Anderson, Kerslake and a bevy of young talent which includes Sarah Green, Ciaran Grace and Liam Heslin is evocative of a not understood, other world with which the “established world” rarely, if ever, engages.  A character who represents a small bridge between these two worlds is Bates a record-store owning groupie played by the incomparable Mark O’Halloran.

Kirwan is a wordsmith of sheer excellence. Here he is not only Jason but his voice is heard reciting his own energetic script as he walks in the streets with his mesmeric, confident jaunt. The world is his. While this combination of his bodily movement and excellent recitation works on stage it is in some manner diluted on celluloid by the ever altering cityscape backdrop. It distracts as you find yourself trying to figure out where is he now; as a result your concentration is broken in relation to his verbal gymnastics. On stage the backdrop is static. Kirwan’s words ignite your imagination. On celluloid in contrast the ever changing backdrop deflects the workings of the imagination and in consequence diminishes rather than enhances Kirwan’s script.

Kirwan and Anderson give fine fraternal performances as Jason and Daniel which despite their differences demonstrate the strength of a blood relationship. Less satisfactory are the drug-fuelled conversations of the friends. Tynan shows, with skill, the Dublin small side streets, lanes and alleyways where a life is led very different to the shops, offices and cafes which are their immediate neighbours. Tynan creates many scenes which are to be savoured but the medley of characters, the words, the city scape and the limited story line do not blend together to create a milieu which is greater than the component ingredients.


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