WRI/DIR: Mark O’Rowe • PRO: Ruth Coady, Alan Moloney • DOP: Richard Kendrick • ED: Eoin McGuirk • MUS: Ian Neil • DES: Ray Ball • CAST: Cillian Murphy, Catherine Walker, Eva Birthistle, Andrew Scott
The Delinquent Season, written and directed by Mark O’Rowe, pairs on-screen married life with a heavy dose of reality. This is not often the case in many films, and so it becomes a believable work that is easy to feel invested in. The everydayness of events which occur between the two central couples amplifies just how little drama is necessary to weaken the loose foundations of the supposed stability of suburban married life with kids.
We are introduced to the two central couples as they are sharing a dinner together, and from this first scenario it is clear that tensions are rising between Yvonne (Catherine Walker) and Chris (Andrew Scott). By contrast Jim (Cillian Murphy) and Danielle (Eva Birthistle) are initially portrayed as having a stronger connection. Whereas the first couple appear to be on the brink of destruction, the second seem to merely be approaching marital dissatisfaction. Essentially, the plot centres on an affair that is struck between Jim and Yvonne. The movie handles what could be described as the trite and typical plot device of an affair consistently well. Only in a couple of moments does it not strike quite right.
This film looks at the highs and lows of an affair from a completely different perspective than audiences are generally accustomed to watching. Typically, when an affair is the central event of a film, the victim rather than the perpetrators gets the most attention. More often than not, it is the hurt experienced by the victim that we focus on. In place, this film examines the human motivations to start an affair and the emotions which follow it.
Through concentrating on Jim and Yvonne’s affair, this movie really calls into question how the structure of monogamy functions in the here and now. Society, on the one hand, has become arguably more accepting. Yet, in terms of monogamy and marriage we still expect clear black and white behavioural norms. On the one hand, we are more liberal and on the other hand we have as many rules as ever. If monogamy is upheld as the societal ideal, then the subject matter of this film – a marital affair – must surely be the antithesis to the framework of society.
What really stands out about this film is the depiction of Jim and Yvonne. Although it is arguable that their affair has sprung as a result of childish reasons – boredom, vanity- what we get to witness is a realistic and emotionally invested affair. Firstly, there is nothing glamorous about this affair. It begins so awkwardly that the embarrassment at making that first bold move really resonates. Occasionally, the romantic statements are a little hard to swallow as they appear to be so out of sync with the expectations that go along with the characters’ personalities and backgrounds. Yvonne initially seems far too prim and self-effacing to ever envision that she could get involved with her friend’s husband. Ultimately, Yvonne is shown as a determined fish out of water, taking on this unlikely situation she finds herself in with as much strength as she can muster. Jim plays the exact opposite of what could be considered to be the typically cheating husband. Jim’s kind and responsible nature clashes with his adulterous actions. The emotional ramifications of the affair seem to take the greatest toll on Jim revealing him as someone who is not only sexually but emotional vested in this affair.
One of the conversations which really underpins the film occurs when Danielle points out how fragile happiness is. The perceptive truth of this statement underlies all that happens in this plot. While monogamy may be seen as the way to a stable and happy life, this kind of life can unravel instantaneously. The real emotions and consequences of the banality of a stifling marriage are clearly portrayed in this film. The often ill-fated results of striking up an affair are illustrated with equal effect. Conclusively this film is a detailed and realistic examination into the outcomes of tampering with monogamy and married life. It acutely highlights the fragile nature of modern relationships through extremely human and engaging characters.
15A (See IFCO for details)
The Delinquent Season is released 27th April 2018