Cineworld. 25th February
The Jameson Dublin International Film Festival
Treacle Jr was introduced to a full house at Cineworld by its director Jamie Thraves on Friday night accompanied by Aidan Gillen, having last worked together in 2000 on The Low Down. Thraves spoke of his desire to maintain complete control of this project and make a film on his own terms, wanting to be “the only executive producer in the room so I could just have battles with myself.’ The only way to do this was through self-funding, so with the help of friends and family (and a re-mortgaged house) Thraves got enough money together to make Treacle Jr.
It’s always a delight in film festivals to discover a work you knew nothing about that proves itself to be a gem, and Treacle Jr certainly is. The film opens with Tom (Tom Fisher), an anonymous man seemingly escaping a settled past that weighs heavy upon him. For whatever reasons, he has decided to turn his back on life and finds himself wandering homeless in London. The over exuberant Aidan (Aidan Gillen) enters his life offering him the top bunk in his flat which is for rent. Aidan’s ‘girlfriend’ Linda (Riann Steele) proves to be an explosive ingredient in the mix and the dysfunctional threesome become four with the introduction of “Treacle Jr’, a kitten Aidan adopts.
Treacle Jr is a story about how people deal with the lives they are given and how physical escape is often not the ideal option but rather that a certain freedom can be attained by escapism and transcending one’s surroundings and, in Aidan’s case, finding a ‘heaven’ that Tom doesn’t believe in.
The three performances are exemplary: Steele’s street-wise aggressive girlfriend is startlingly fiercesome, while Fisher’s marvellously understated portrayal provides the perfect foil for Gillen’s controlled mania that never tips over into slapstick achieving a perfect level of empathy winning over the viewer’s sympathy and admiration. His infectious optimism in the face of abuse and rejection makes for a moving black comedy that, while unsettling at times, is an uplifting story with a human heart.
The character that Aidan plays is inspired by Aidan Walshe – Thraves said that it’s not a film about his life but rather a character that is inspired by him as a character. He added that ultimately it was Walshe’s optimism that inspired the film.