DIR/WRI: Brendan Grant • PRO: Juliette Bonass • DOP: Vladimir Trivic • ED: Celia Galán, Eoin McGuirk • DES: Emma Lowney • DES: Emma Lowney • CAST: Peter Coonan, Killian Scott, Gemma-Leah Devereux
Nothing is more awkward then when a joke falls flat. Well, I did hear a titter in the cinema here and there, but it may have been someone clearing their throat. Alas such was the case with Get Up and Go, written and directed by Brendan Grant, a film that tries- and fails – to provide an insightful look into the realities of exiting one’s youth while still clinging to unattainable dreams under the guise of a ‘hipster comedy/drama’. But, hey, at least it tries.
The worst aspect by far in this film is the fact that its two main protagonists are completely unlikeable. And not in an endearing kind of way. True, perfect characters make for dull films, but with no semblance of goodness it’s extremely difficult to engage with a character’s motivation and story arc. Alex (Coonan) and Coilin (Scott) have been best friends for years, but now approaching their thirties and with their creative ambitions as of yet unrealised, tensions between the undynamic-duo begin to grow. Throw in some romantic trouble and wadda-bing, wadda-bang, there’s your plot. The film takes course over 24 hours and meanders from one plot point to another with little cohesion or thought.
After finding out his girlfriend is pregnant, Alex decides to jump ship and finally move to London to pursue his stagnant music career. Vain and selfish, Alex never reaches any form of satisfactory redemption. Immigration for young Irish people is as topical now as ever but Grant fails to seize on this opportunity to explore more deeply the impact it is having on an entire generation and the country at large. Hipsters hanging out in coffee shops serve as the representatives for ‘Generation Y-ers’ and they’re about as interesting as they sound. The whole ‘struggling artist’ shtick isn’t as sympathetic when said struggling artists spend their days sipping €5-per-cup coffees. On the other end of the spectrum is would-be comedian Coilin. Awkward and boring, Coilin completely lacks the charisma necessary to succeed in his chosen career path but remains firm in the belief that his ‘big break’ lies just around the corner. He also isn’t doing too hot on the dating scene, which is no wonder as he is completely incapable of understanding the concept of ‘no’. As Alex and Coilin fuddle from one problem to another and are confronted with harsh truths, both about themselves and life in general, all certainty begins to wane.
Now and again the film comes close to being almost profound, but then undermines this with unnecessary sub-plots and unfunny jokes. In the ‘comedy/horror’ paradigm this film falls firmly on the drama side of things. This would be fine, except that the film insists on rubbing its jokes in the audience’s faces instead of letting it occur naturally. Undoubtedly talented though Scott and Coonan are, a lot of the comedic sequences fail due to their deadpan delivery. The jokes come across as forced and offer nothing in terms of the character’s observations or self-realisation. Punchlines are followed by silence from the audience. But when the joke revolves around a character rubbing his genitalia to make use of his ‘natural musk’ to attract women, expectations must be set low.
The film boasts its use of various Dublin locations, especially pubs and cafes, throughout. However, this is nothing new. It seems no film set in Dublin nowadays is complete without various tracking shots of the city’s landmarks dappled around. Aesthetically, the film does not have much to offer. Its colour palette is bland and its shots straightforward. The musical soundtrack, on the other hand, which exclusively features Irish musicians, is brimming with life and personality. Indeed, it’s one of the best aspects of the film.
Overall, Get Up and Go leaves audiences feeling unsatisfied. It has nothing original to offer in terms providing a real insight into the actual realities of being a young person in Ireland today, its humour fails to pack a punch, and its characters never engage with the viewer on any meaningful level. What’s frustrating is the fact that this film had the potential to become an Irish equivalent of 2004’s Garden State but, where Zach Braff’s film had enough charm to overcome its shortcomings, there is very little here to salvage.
15A (See IFCO for details)
Get Up and Go is released 1st May 2015