Chris Lavery checks out Tom Ryan’s low-budget debut feature Trampoline, which is set to screen in Cork on Thursday, 12th June 2014 at the Beggarman.


Directed by first-time writer-director Tom Ryan, Trampoline follows the story of directionless Angie (Spratt), who returns home to Tipperary from London to reconnect with her family and friends. After securing a teaching job in her local school, taking after her retired teacher mum (Walshe), Angie begins to settle back into life at home. But she soon finds her old life isn’t as easy to readjust to as she first thought.


Filmed for less than €1,000, Trampoline started life as a debut feature of modest ambitions, but since its Irish premiere at last October’s IndieCork Film Festival, Trampoline hasn’t gone unnoticed. First, Spratt was the recipient of the award for Best Leading Actress in a Feature Film from the Los Angeles Indie Fest awards in November. Then came recognition from the Williamsburg Independent Film Festival in New York a few weeks later when Trampoline won Best Narrative Feature. This then culminated in a limited theatrical release in Nenagh, Co. Tipperary, the town in which the film is set.


Given Ryan’s background as an understudy to Andrij Parekh – cinematographer for films such as Half Nelson and Blue Valentine – and his experience working as a camera trainee on films such as Steve McQueen’s Shame, it’s clear he was paying attention, with Half Nelson particularly being an influence here. What strikes you initially about Trampoline is its visual aesthetic. Together with his director of photography, Cian Moynan, Ryan shows an adept skill at capturing beautiful exterior scenes of Dublin as well as atmospheric settings for Angie’s social life around Nenagh.


The juxtaposition of these colourful, vibrant shots together with the relatively mundane interiors of Angie’s home and school life, provides an additional narrative (together with the dialogue) that highlights Angie’s aimless and unsure life ambitions.


It could’ve been considered a risk, placing the fortunes of a debut feature film in the hands of a single central character, rather than an ensemble. But with Angie, Ryan has created a completely believable, fully rounded character who, despite her flaws, we are easily able to warm to.


But praise for this cannot be shared by Ryan alone. As Angie, Spratt is the heart and soul of Trampoline and delivers a superb performance. Not just in the delivery of dialogue, but also in her unspoken scenes. Most notably, a scene where she watches her absentee musician father play in the local pub is a moving scene of a young woman looking towards her future by reconciling with her past – a triumphant display despite not a single word being spoken.


Despite able support from a range of background characters (all local actors), Trampoline belongs to Spratt.


As Ryan, and producer Claire Gormley, continue to bring Trampoline to more festivals, some attention is now being turned to the team’s next project – one which will be eagerly anticipated by many given this accomplished debut.


Trampoline will be screened upstairs in the Beggarman on Gillabbey Street Cork on Thursday, 12th June at 8pm. Tickets are €5 at the door and includes free popcorn for the event.


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