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Film Review – ‘Under the Clock’

 

“Love is an itch underneath the heart you can’t scratch,” chuckles the charming and eccentric musician, Ray Gunn, from the armchair by the window of his living room. Sat alone, but for a battered old electric guitar on his lap, he affectionately recounts memories shared with his late wife during the course of her battle with alcoholism, his smiles and tears sharing the same sentence.

Ray Gunn’s life story is one of twenty-one chosen to craft a depiction of Dublin in the rare auld times for the big screen. Mentioned in the final scene, he sadly passed away in 2017 before the release of this film which evokes a poignant thought that without it, his memories would have died with him.

Under The Clock is a beautifully textured work from director, Colm Nicell. The documentary pays homage to the romantic customs and traditions of a bygone era while examining the societal transformations Ireland has undergone within one generation. What begins as a nostalgic celebration of a historic landmark’s cultural significance quickly dovetails into something unequivocally more powerful.

Nicell explores a swash of different themes pertinent to modern Irish society, all anchored to the focus point of the film – the old Clery’s clock – the rendezvous point of besotted and mortified hopefuls alike. Love, marriage, sex, religion, communication and the role of the woman are among those sewn through the touching collection of anecdotes.

Shared feelings of sympathy and bewilderment spring up among the interviewees for millennials who navigate Tinder, Facebook and other forms of social media as routes to meaningful connection. Comparably, there is some disagreement among the couples about how much sex was going on in their youth.

Under The Clock merits itself another fantastic addition to the growing film genre of socio-cultural snapshots of the Emerald Isle and is a must-see for Irish cinema goers.

Photo credit – Aapo Haapanen

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