Lakelands – Film Review

Lakelands – Film Review

Directors – Robert Higgins, Patrick McGivney
Writers – Robert Higgins, Patrick McGivney
Stars – Éanna Hardwicke, Danielle Galligan, Lorcan Cranitch

Cian Reilly (Éanna Hardwicke) is the star of the local GAA team. One night, while out for a few drinks, he manages to annoy the wrong group of lads at a Nightclub. The bouncers throw him out and he meets the same group of lads in a dark alley. There, they give him a beating to remember. He wakes up the next day in the hospital and is soon back on the street, but the doctor warns him he has to avoid any physical activity including his favourite sport. This begins a troubling time for the young man who slowly realises that his path to recovery might not be as straightforward as he first suspected.

This is a new film by the Irish writer and director team of Robert Higgins and Patrick McGivney. They have worked together previously on a couple of short films (Drifting and Angels Guard Thee), but this is their first feature film. The two main actors are Éanna Hardwicke (Normal People, Vivarium) along with Danielle Galligan (Kin, Shadow and Bone) who plays Grace, his old friend and possible love interest. Lorcan Cranitch plays Cian’s grouchy and difficult father, who never really believes his son is ill.

If mentions of young men wearing GAA shorts all sound quite like Normal People, it really isn’t! While there are some similarities in the setting of small-town Ireland and also the possible romance between the two main characters, that is really where the similarities end. The film covers quite different ground and focuses on Cian and his battles with concussion and brain injury. There are hints of smouldering passion between Cian and Grace, but it’s not the focus of the film.

This is a well-considered depiction of life in small-town Ireland with a focus on drinking at weekends for immediate escape. Cian works with his Dad on their farm but seems to have little ambition beyond his role on the GAA team and enjoying himself. It is quite a subtle depiction of rural life, which captures the lack of outlets other than alcohol. The fact that Grace has returned home to look after her father who is dying of liver failure/ alcoholism hammers the point home, possibly a little too hard.

The difficulties involved in making your first feature film are immense and the work of Robert Higgins and Patrick McGivney, along with the rest of the cast and crew is to be admired. This is a well-made and acted film that shows plenty of promise by all involved. The story lacks a clear focus and ending is a little unresolved, but there are many positives despite these failings. Éanna Hardwicke continues to make the leap towards leading man status and Danielle Galligan makes an impression as the well-meaning Grace. We’ll look out with interest for what McGivney and Higgins do next.

Categories: Header, Movie Review, Movies

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