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A Great Month for showcasing Irish Film – ‘The Young Offenders’ and ‘A Date for Mad Mary’ Reviews

Youth Offenders Credit: Element Pictures Distribution

Youth Offenders Credit: Element Pictures Distribution

Great Irish comedies these days are few and far between.  However, this past month saw two incredibly funny Irish-produced films; ‘The Young Offenders’ and ‘A Date for Mad Mary’.

‘The Young Offenders’, directed by Peter Foott, follows two teenage boys from Cork on a hunt to find missing cocaine from a capsized boat off the coast of West Cork.  The two main characters, Jock (played by Chris Walley) and Conor (played by Alex Murphy), aren’t the brightest of sparks – perhaps even Cork’s answer to Tweedledum and Tweedledee.  So off Jock and Conor go, leaving behind Conor’s caring mother and Jock’s alcoholic father, to cycle across Cork (on stolen bicycles, Jock’s specialty) in search of the cocaine they hope will soon make them millionaires.

En route to their destination, they encounter their local Garda – who has a vendetta against Jock for stealing bikes as a hobby – and an old man who allows them hide out in his house, shielding them away from the Garda.  We then see the rest of the hilarious trials and tribulations they face in order to hopefully get their hands on the cocaine.  

‘The Young Offenders’ plays on its Irishness greatly, flaunting the uniqueness of our Irish humour and appealing to not only an Irish audience but also to people outside our small Country.

The relationship between the dynamic duo, Jock and Conor, gives the movie its direction and even overshadows the plot line.  ‘The Young Offenders’ could have had any average story and Jock and Conor would still manage to shine through any mundaneness.

There is also a great cameo appearance from PJ Gallagher, playing an unnerving character armed with a nail gun, who you certainly would not want to cross paths with.  Gallagher’s appearance adds to the authentic Irish feel of the film.

Although this film was overall a comedy, it does touch on some serious issues that give the film some substance.  It’s not just about two wasters searching for drugs, there’s far more to it than that.  As beautiful as Cork appears on screen, we get an insight of the not so beautiful real life situations that many people face.  Jock, a young teenager still grieving the loss of his mother and having to deal with an alcoholic and abusive father, decides how he will make do with a life of crime.

A blend of Irish humour and the chemistry between the two main characters is what makes this film so genuine.  Everything that represents Ireland was utilized by the director and nothing was too exaggerated or over-played; true Irish comedy at its finest.

 

A date for mad Mary Credit: Element Pictures Distribution

A date for Mad Mary Credit: Element Pictures Distribution

‘A Date for Mad Mary’ (directed by Darren Thornton) is a prime example of how an Irish film should be done – whole-heartedly, while of course, not forgetting great humour.  Mary, also known as ‘Mad Mary’ (played by Seána Kerslake), has just been released from jail and returns to her hometown Drogheda to pick back up where she left off.  Upon her return, she finds it hard to resume her old life.  Her best friend Charlene’s (played by Charleigh Bailey) wedding is coming up, for which she is the maid of honour.  Mary is  bewildered when Charlene turns down every invite to go out drinking one night.  Charlene may have changed over the six months Mary was in jail, but ‘Mad Mary’ still lives up to her name.  Mary decides she’s going to find a date for Charlene’s wedding, to prove any misconceptions about her being a “mess” wrong.  She goes on several dates, only to end up with a 100% failure rate.  Plot twist, Mary stops trying and an unexpected love interest comes along, Jess (played by Tara Lee), Charlene’s wedding videographer.

We then see Mary struggling to maintain her relationships with the people around her, while also playing with Jess’ emotions.  In the past, Mary expressed herself with violence which ended up landing her in jail.  Now, we see Mary remorseful over her violent past and finally trying to shed her image as ‘Mad Mary’.  Charlene seems to no longer need Mary, her partner in crime.  Mary is stuck in limbo and realises for perhaps the first time ever, it’s time to mature and evolve.

‘A Date for Mad Mary’ shares many similarities to the film ‘Bridesmaids’, that is, if you stripped ‘Bridesmaids’ of any glamour and hit it with the reality that is life.

There is an abundance of natural comedy throughout the film, but I would definitely class it as more of a drama. With the unfolding of real issues comes real emotions.  This film will of course make you laugh, but surprisingly it may also make you cry.   

This film couldn’t have been more honest, with a completely raw storyline, emotions and effortless acting.  We aren’t shown much scenery and the scenery that we are shown is quite gloomy.  However, the acting and storyline make the scenery obsolete.  There was no reliance on visual shots, just pure acting and issues that everyone can relate to.  The feeling that everyone but you is moving on with their life, like you’ve missed the train, is portrayed very realistically.

With these two gems of films, I have high hopes for the future of Irish film.  They show the potential Irish actors and directors have, with little focus on special effects and props, just sheer, raw, Irish talent.  Both films certainly don’t hold back, violence, cursing, it’s all there.

By Jenna Cox

 

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