Holy Island – Film Review
by Frank L.
Director – Robert Manson
Writer – Robert Manson
Stars – Jeanne Nicole Ní Áinle, Conor Madden, Dermot Murphy
According to the film’s publicity material, David (Conor Madden) and Rosa (Jeanne Nicole ní Áinle) are trying to escape from some unspecified coastal town. This location is a purgatory of some description and they need to find a rare ticket in order to escape it. As David and Rosa traverse the island other characters appear such as Mammon (Arthur Riordan) and a nameless priest (Manchan Magan). It all adds to the difficulty of connecting with the film.
Even this limited amount of storyline is not easy to discern from the film as it plays out. In addition, the complexity is magnified by a young David being played by Dermot Murphy. There are minimal facial similarities between Madden and Murphy. The other principal figure is Rosa who makes herself important to the world of David in both iterations.
The film is primarily shot in black and white which captures magnificently waves rolling in on a sandy beach and sand dunes dissected by trodden pathways. This aspect of the film is haunting and memorable. It is an impressive representation of the Irish coastline. From time to time, coloured footage intervenes which depicts a fairground. Its subject matter does not apparently relate to the black-and-white footage and may represent some dream-like existence which is far away or an unobtainable escape from the angst which David and Rosa are experiencing.
It is not a straightforward film and the storyline is opaque and diffuse at best. It is difficult to know what precisely it set out to achieve. An enquiring soul may discern its underlying rationale more perceptively than this reviewer.
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