DIR/WRI: Donal Foreman • PRO: Emmet Fleming • DOP: Piers McGrail • ED: Donal Foreman • DES: Erin Hermosa • CAST: Daniel Bergin, Kelly Byrne, Jack Dean-Shepher
Twenty-something Clontarf native Ciaran (Fionn Walton) is an art school dropout back to square one in dreary old Dublin after aimlessly bouncing around the globe for the past year. He’s a few hours early and there’s no welcoming party; mom, dad and baby sister oddly contrary, even the family dog is more concerned with getting his forty winks. Jet lag sets in, his bed is sought out and in the few hours of slumber all he’d left behind catches up and haunts him in Donal Foreman’s feature debut, an angst-ridden odyssey of youth and yearning.
All themes and tropes are present and accounted for… Ciaran’s dissatisfied and disillusioned, he’s at a crossroads but every direction feels a dead-end, catching up with friends and family is a chore and he’s even got a beautiful and talented ex he’s (of course) still desperately carrying a candle for. If it all sounds a little too familiar it was probably intended too; what’ll knock you for six, however, is the focused and yet directionless manner in which it unfolds, at a brisk 80 minutes I might add. The devil’s in the details and they’re beautifully rendered – at one point Ciaran slinks into town and stares at a statue of William Smith O’Brien, there’s the obvious and the not so obvious, the latter an image of a man rooted to the ground, standing tall and resolute, his achievements written in stone while Ciaran’s treading water, just trying to keep afloat in treacherous tides. It’s directionless in that we go with the flow, from one vignette to another as we watch Ciaran “take stock and consider options”, some of them more successful than others.
Case in point… we dive right in, curtains rise and Ciaran’s back and catching up with a friend at a house party, its certainly preferable over some conventional scenic shots of Terminal 2 but a duologue including ‘sandpaper assisted anal fisting’ doesn’t make for the best of first impressions. Next stop… we’re in a club and Ciaran’s on the prowl desperately seeking distraction and finds it in Melissa (a brief but memorable-as-always Aoife Duffin). They spend the night together but then the morning after comes around and she’s asking what he’s got planned for the day, Ciaran hasn’t a clue and double takes under her couch cushions for his belongings, having to go but with nowhere to go. It’s glorious little tragi-comic moments like this that colour the drama. What follows is again hit or miss but when it’s good it’s pretty great. After seeking advice from Eckhart Tolle of all people (on Facebook of all formats) it’s a not-so-merry-go-around across the country’s favourite leisure spots… the cinema, the pub, the club and Facebook again to stalk that elusive ex. The macho-fuelled levity of his friends wears worryingly thin and a cringe inducing catch-up with ex-girlfriend Jess (Annabell Rickerby) only reveals she’s sour over his up and leaving and lack of contact.
It’s all very grim but dotted around the drama and stitching the scenes together are some really gorgeous cutaways (courtesy of DOP Piers McGrail) perhaps hinting at the silver linings to come, in any case Dublin’s never looked so good. When Ciaran wakes up to one of his spaced-out friends looming over him seeking a bike ride buddy only to bring him to a secluded spot (away and yet in view of things) for a seaside muse, we realise what it’s all been about by the halfway point.
Everyone’s desperately carrying their heart on their sleeve, all of them an open book (even strangers, drunks and the homeless… oh my) – only the stories all sound the same in a city of lost souls. Just before the conveyor belt of colourful characters reaches full tilt Ciaran’s accosted by some beatnik-like night prowlers and we think… god this could be it, Ciaran’s going to lose it and he does, in a major beat ‘performing’ as one of the film’s many highlights. Gone is the loud and obnoxious façade, the shield we parade in times of weakness exposing here a slam-poetry inspired confession detailing why Ciaran feels in purgatory since coming home.
It’s a bold departure tonally from what’s come before, so much so that even the most seasoned cynic would be hard-pressed not to be won over so late in the game. Remarkably, the scenes that follow only get better, such as when Ciaran makes one last attempt to woo back Jess as she sits suspended in the air by a swing, big kids in a playground after hours, or when discussing the important things in life with one-night stand alumna Melissa, such as why seagulls are so damn big. You might be peeved that after floating about for hour the film fails to land upon a clear-cut climax but the filmmakers aren’t concerned with a ribbon-tied resolution and neither should you.
The cast of bright young things are a joy to watch and Foreman’s direction is exceptional, handling a story about disaffection with meticulous affection, so if you’re young or you’ve ever been young make it your mission to leave your doubts at the door (or upon the shore) and dive in, you won’t be disappointed.
15A (See IFCO for details)
Out of Here is released 29th October 2014