DIR/WRI: Gerard Barrett • PRO: Juliette Bonass, Ed Guiney • DOP: Piers McGrail • ED: Nathan Nugent • DES: Stephanie Clerkin • Cast: Will Poulter, Toni Collette, Jack Reynor, Michael Smiley, Harry Nagle
Sometimes a movie will come on the receiving end of the positive side of a double standard by film critics and audiences alike. Gerard Barrett’s first movie Pilgrim Hill was granted some of those respites, with defenders often claiming, “Look what he managed to do with such a small budget?” or “Can you imagine he was only 26 when that movie came out?” Lovers and haters alike now have Barrett’s follow-up in their sights, as he folds in an all-star cast and an accompanying healthy budget. Thankfully, Barrett the director rises to the challenge, even if Barrett the screenwriter sometimes leaves us short-changed.
Try to avoid the movie’s IMDb page, or any kind of synopsis if you can, as the official version of the movie’s plot tells a slightly different story to the one you’ll actually sit down to watch. All we’ll say is that Shane (Jack Reynor) is a young Dublin based taxi driver, attempting to deal with his alcoholic mother (Toni Colette) and a best-friend (Will Poulter) whose impending departure to Australia will see Shane’s last connection to a somewhat normal life being cut away. There are later developments including an addiction specialist (Michael Smiley) and a third-act plot-intrusion which threatens to derail all the subtle work done up until then, but for the most part it’s a quiet (and sometimes not so quiet) two hander between Reynor and Colette, or Reynor and Poulter.
Much like Pilgrim Hill, Barrett loves leaving the camera on each scene just a little bit too long, and more often than not it works in his favour, resulting in a level of honest uncomfortableness from each of the actors when they’re not faced with an easy “Cut!” This same patience can sometimes result in scenes that drag on for far too long, especially one which seems to focus on a closed door for almost ten seconds after everyone else has left the scene, and even at a scant 93 minutes, some judicious editing would’ve shaved at least ten minutes away.
Getting some amazing performances from his cast – one car-based breakdown from Reynor in particular will remind those blinded by Trans4mers that he’s actually a talented actor – and presenting Dublin neither as a glittering metropolis nor a drug-infused sink-hole, but actually as it really is, Barrett has already made a huge jump in quality from his last outing. We can’t wait to see what he accomplishes with feature number three Brain On Fire, as we’re sure Barrett the director will continue to go from strength to strength. Here’s hoping Barrett the screenwriter doesn’t remain too far behind.
15A (See IFCO for details)
Glassland is released 17th April 2015