Doineann – Film Review
by Frank L.
Director – Damian McCann
Writer – Aislinn Clarke
Stars – Peter Coonan, Brid Brennan, Clare Monnelly
A New Irish Language Film – Find out more here
Aislinn Clarke has set the story in a small island community somewhere off the Irish coast. The home of young couple Tomás (Peter Coonan) and Siobhán (Clare Monnely) and their baby Oisin (Oscar Kilbane-May) is a spanking new wooden structure with floor to ceiling windows that give inspiring views over the coast. It is up-to-date with modern gadgetry. The other dwellings on the island come from an earlier era. Quite clearly Tomás and Siobhán live in a different world from their neighbours.
Tomás thinks that Siobhán is suffering from postnatal depression. A storm is brewing and in accordance with contemporary meteorological jargon, it has been allocated a ‘red’ storm warning. However, Tomás has to make a short trip to the mainland. When he returns Siobhán and Oisin have disappeared. There is no guard on the island but that deficit is diminished by the presence of a retired detective Labhaoise (Brid Brennan). Her wisdom and forensic skills are brought to bear on the problem.
The plot takes many twists and turns. Clues are left here and there for the redoubtable Labhaoise to assess as she and the audience puzzle as to what has happened. Brennan is masterful in creating the Labhaoise character who despite her years of professional detective work has not lost her woman-of-the-house skills, as she offers cups of homemade soup where that seems the appropriate thing to do. The other characters (including Tomás and Siobhán) are less satisfactorily developed while the inhabitants of the island have parts that are little more than two dimensional. Brennan and the beauty of the location hold the film together as the story tracks around the island.
This is an Irish language film and the language and natural location match each other. It is also impressive that the language is surrounded by twenty-first-century happenings. The story is part of the here and now. So often the fate of the language is to be swathed in the mists of time. There is no “fadó fadó” in this story. It is a worthwhile tale, as the mystery slowly unravels and hopefully, it will encourage more films to be made in the first national language in a contemporary setting.