Blackbird – Film Review
by Frank L.
Director – Michael Flatley
Writer – Michael Flatley
Stars – Michael Flatley, Eric Roberts, Patrick Bergin
Orson Welles’ first feature film was Citizen Kane. It was released in 1941 when the director was only 26 years of age. While this was a remarkable achievement for his debut, even Welles had a number of short films under his belt at this time. There are many other directors who were not so successful with their first films, including Francis Ford Coppola (Dementia 13 – 1963), Ron Howard (Grand Theft Auto – 1977) and Oliver Stone (Seizure – 1974). Where this latest director will stand amongst those names only time will tell, but you can’t blame a guy for trying!
The role of a film director is extremely complex, you have to keep a multitude of plates spinning simultaneously. For a first-time director, it is a difficult role as they learn their trade on the job. Michael Flatley is not only the director of this piece, he has also coupled it with some other minor roles including writer, producer and lead actor. He plays the main character Victor Blackley and produces this secret agent thriller by means of his production company. One would question whether a degree of division of labour may have helped the enterprise.
After some fine shots of the magnificence of the Irish countryside, the film hones in on a funeral taking place in a downpour in front of a Georgian country mansion in the Palladian style on a meander of a river. The river is none other than the Blackwater in County Cork and the mansion is Castle Hyde which Flatley has spent many millions renovating. The funeral is being conducted “as Gaeilge” and there are no subtitles. As the mourners gravitate to the mansion for refreshment Blackley stands, in front of his wife’s grave, a broken man as his activities as a secret agent has contributed in some unspecified way to her death. Various flashbacks throughout the film fail to clarify exactly what were Blackley’s failures but her death haunts him. The rain continues to crash down as Blackley or “Vic”, as he is known to his friends, walks with his Homberg hat perched ineffectually on his head slowly back to the mansion.
Everyone is concerned about what is going to happen to Vic but ten years later sees him in charge of the Blue Moon in Barbados, a mega swish destination for the filthy rich. His days as a secret agent are long behind him… or are they? Blake (Eric Roberts) and his long-standing girlfriend Vivian (Nicole Evans) arrive to stay. He is a baddy but the innocent Vivian has not yet worked that out. She is an old flame of Vic. Blake has however in his possession a sim card which has the formula to obliterate vast swathes of the population. Inevitably there is going to be a major confrontation between Vic and Blake, but before that happens there has to be a certain amount of foreplay between them which includes a game of blackjack.
During some of these diversions, straw hats become a de rigueur accessory as Vivian, Vic and a character called Nick (Ian Beattie) each sport one even if not the wisest form of headgear when travelling in an open-topped sports car. There is also sprinkled into the story, a performance of “Mack the Knife” by a shapely young woman and Vic honourably resists the overt sexual charms of another. In addition, Vic also has convenient access in Barbados to an Irish priest as and when Vic needs moral or spiritual guidance.
Notwithstanding these various happenings, the film lasts a mere hour and a half during which the audience indulged themselves in moments of laughter as the story unfolded or at the surprising words one of the actors had unconvincingly spoken. It entertains but probably not always for the reasons that its creator had intended. This is not a must-see movie but if you choose to see it, sit back and indulge Michael Flatley as scriptwriter, screen actor, film director and producer. The film will be talked about and as Wilde said there is only one thing worse in the world than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.