DIR/WRI: Ian Power • PRO: Macdara Kelleher, Brendan McDonald, Ian Power • DOP: P.J. Dillon • Ed: Amine Jaber • DES: Ray Ball • Cast: James Cosmo, Kerry Condon, Demián Bichir
Paco (Jamie Kierans) has it tough; his Mum seems to work every hour of the day, his Dad is ‘in Spain’, and his best friend Frogs has just had his family’s traveller site moved out of their sleepy Cork village. The year is 1983 and Ireland is in the midst of a recession, with everyone seemingly waiting for something to happen. And indeed something does, with the crash landing of handsome South American rogue Ernesto (Demian Bichir).
Since it is Paco who finds Ernesto, and indeed it is only Paco who seems to be able to (semi) understand Ernesto’s Spanish ramblings, Paco swiftly becomes Ernesto’s handler-come-translator. Some of the best comedy moments come when even Paco can’t quite understand what Ernesto is saying, and makes up an entirely fictional backstory in order to get the village on his side (‘He’s an orphan.’). But it isn’t long before the village have joined forces in order to get Ernesto’s crashed plane back into working order, and begin construction of a runway for it to take off.
Writer/Director Ian Power wears the film’s Spielberg heart on its sleeve, in particular the very strong E.T.-vibe (missing father figure, crash landing outsider, construction of something to help him return home), and the strong cast help bring the drama and comedy when and where it’s needed. The only real fault lies when the film concerns itself with Ernesto’s real past, involving a slightly muddled story of stolen gems and Ernesto’s evil brother.
Thankfully, not much screen time is given over to this sub-plot, and the film focuses mostly where it should – on the burgeoning relationships between Paco and Ernesto, and Ernesto and Paco’s mum, not to mention the well-played balancing act of having the village play for comic relief without descending into any real clichés. Much like the runway itself at the time, this movie should capture the hearts and imagination of the rest of the country. Between this and The Guard, it looks like 2011 will be a great year for Irish cinema.
Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)
The Runway is released on 10th June 2011