The Last Right – Film review
by Fran Winston
Directed by : Aoife Crehan
Starring: Michiel Huisman, Niamh Algar, Samuel Bottomley, Jim Norton, Colm Meany
In cinemas December 6th
It has been a great year for Irish cinema releases with a huge amount of home-grown flicks hitting screens in the past 11 odd months and just before year’s end comes this debut offering from writer/director Aoife Crehan.
Seemingly she loosely based the premise on a couple of true stories so here we find Daniel Murphy (Huisman) flying from New York to Cork to bury his mother. Before they land however the elderly passenger sitting beside him dies and the fact they share the same surname leads to a case of mistaken identity where he is asked to take charge of the body. Despite his reticence he finds himself on a road trip with his autistic brother Louis (Bottomley) and the sister of the local undertaker Mary (Algar) as they head across country to deliver the corpse to Rathlin Island for burial, with Colm Meany’s gruff Garda in hot pursuit.
It is somewhat annoying to see yet another non Irish actor take the lead in an Irish film. However, Dutch thespian Huisman does an exemplary job in the role. Even if it is never fully explained how the character ended up growing up in the US. He also has a wonderful chemistry with Algar who is charming and engaging as Mary – again, however, her circumstances are very contrived. Meanwhile, Louis is played by English actor Samuel Bottomley, who gives a wonderful portrayal of the autistic young man. However, again I did feel an Irish actor could have filled this role. The lead three aside many of the other characters are clichés and caricatures – particularly Meany’s belligerent detective. They have their moments of brilliance but overall are somewhat cringe-worthy.
The real star here is the scenery. The cinematography is gorgeous and Ireland looks amazing throughout this film. It totally benefits from the fact that they went to the actual locations to shoot – somewhat unusual as logistically it can be a nightmare.
Although somewhat clunky and clichéd in setting up and winding up the plot this has enough humour and warmth to allow you to overlook that. Much of the script is romcom 101 and you totally see where it is heading but that doesn’t detract from the charm. In fact, it is far more charming than it actually should be – particularly the second act.
I didn’t expect to enjoy this as much as I did but it is one of the best Irish comedies of the year – all the more remarkable given that it is Crehan’s first attempt at movie making. It’s also the kind of movie that could travel quite well as despite many “Irishisms” overall the themes explored here are universal and understood everywhere. This deserves to be supported and will leave you, if not with a huge grin, at the very least with a smile on your face.