DIR: Graham Cantwell WRI: Anthony Fox PRO: Patrick Clarke, Anthony Fox DOP: Fergal O’Hanlon ED: Breege Rowley DES: Anita Delaney CAST: Anthony Fox, Gerard McSorley, Laura Way, Cillian Roche, Andy Smith, Ronan Wilmot
From director Graham Cantwell comes this debut feature set mainly in 1970s Ireland. The title character returns from a few years abroad to find his home county of Cavan a changed place. Violence and intimidation from the North has spilled over into the county, angering Anton (Anthony Fox) and Bren (Andy Smith). Deciding to put their angry ranting about ‘the Brits’ into action, the two, rather clumsily, join the local IRA branch. This draws the ire of the local bully-boy, Detective Lynch (Gerard McSorley) as well as further alienating Anton from his wife Maria (Laura Way). Lynch takes a dim view of their antics, brutally hammering home his message to them and Anton’s innocent brother, Edward (Cillian Roche) and the brothers are drawn into a violent downward spiral.
Anton is a movie that cannot decide what it wants to be. Is it an exploration of one man’s impotent anger at the British occupation? Is it a story of one man’s journey of self-discovery against the backdrop of the troubles? Or is it a story of a good man getting pulled into a dark world that ultimately destroys his family and friends? The answer is it is all these things, or it at least tries to be. It is at times a messy affair, lurching from one scene to another with little or no exposition. However, it does have its moments, and the cast do a relatively good job, some more than others. It is well shot and uses colour effectively to convey the prevailing mood of the characters; cold blues for anger and pain and brighter yellows for happier times. Some of the more violent and brutal scenes are very well handled. With these scenes in particular showing what Cantwell is capable of, it’s just a pity that the rest of the movie is not as strong or as visceral. It often feels that Cantwell is hesitant and holding back from unleashing his true potential. It’s a good story but one that needed a more confident hand with some streamlining to really make it work.