DIR: Graham Cantwell WRI: Anthony Fox PRO: Patrick Clarke, Anthony Fox DOP: Fergal O’Hanlon ED: Breege Rowley DES: Anita Delaney CAST: Anthony Fox, Gerard McSorley, Laura Way, Cillian Roche, Andy Smith, Ronan Wilmot
From director Graham Cantwell comes this debut feature set mainly in 1970s Ireland. The title character returns from a few years abroad to find his home county of Cavan a changed place. Violence and intimidation from the North has spilled over into the county, angering Anton (Anthony Fox) and Bren (Andy Smith). Deciding to put their angry ranting about ‘the Brits’ into action, the two, rather clumsily, join the local IRA branch. This draws the ire of the local bully-boy, Detective Lynch (Gerard McSorley) as well as further alienating Anton from his wife Maria (Laura Way). Lynch takes a dim view of their antics, brutally hammering home his message to them and Anton’s innocent brother, Edward (Cillian Roche) and the brothers are drawn into a violent downward spiral.
Anton is a movie that cannot decide what it wants to be. Is it an exploration of one man’s impotent anger at the British occupation? Is it a story of one man’s journey of self-discovery against the backdrop of the troubles? Or is it a story of a good man getting pulled into a dark world that ultimately destroys his family and friends? The answer is it is all these things, or it at least tries to be. It is at times a messy affair, lurching from one scene to another with little or no exposition. However, it does have its moments, and the cast do a relatively good job, some more than others. It is well shot and uses colour effectively to convey the prevailing mood of the characters; cold blues for anger and pain and brighter yellows for happier times. Some of the more violent and brutal scenes are very well handled. With these scenes in particular showing what Cantwell is capable of, it’s just a pity that the rest of the movie is not as strong or as visceral. It often feels that Cantwell is hesitant and holding back from unleashing his true potential. It’s a good story but one that needed a more confident hand with some streamlining to really make it work.
A new Irish feature film Anton is set for a nationwide release on 10th October and stars IFTA award-winner Gerard McSorley (In The Name of the Father, The Boxer and Omagh).
Helmed by award-winning director Graham Cantwell (A Dublin Story – shortlisted for Academy Award® nomination in 2004), it also stars Anthony Fox (The General, The Bill), Laura Way (The Clinic, The Tudors) and Ronan Wilmot (The Butcher Boy, Sweeney Todd). Other cast members include Cillian Roche, Andy Smith, Griet Van Damme and Rachel Rath. The feature was shot by award-winning DOP Fergal O’ Hanlon on location in Cavan, Dublin, Belfast and Paris
Inspired by true events, Anton is set in 1970s Ireland. Northern Ireland is in flames, and civil unrest has spilled south of the border. Blinded by hatred and misguided patriotism, Anton is led into an illicit world of violence and is forced to choose between his family and his country.
Everyday is a battle,’ says director Graham Cantwell. He is midway through shooting his first feature, Anton, with very little money and a great deal of determination. Aidan Beatty visited the set, and tried to delay proceedings as little as possible.
An odd sight greeted those who happened to be making their way through Smithfield on a recent cold and wet January morning: a small, nondescript pub had been converted into a mid-1970s Parisian café-bar. This transformation took place to aid the production of Graham Cantwell’s debut feature, Anton. Ostensibly the film is the story of a merchant sailor’s return to an Ireland caught up in the midst of the Troubles, though, for scriptwriter and lead actor Anthony Fox, this film is definitely ‘not just another IRA movie – it’s a family story, a rock-and-roll love story.’
Graham Cantwell is well known in the Irish film industry due to the positive reception his short films, such as A Dublin Story, have received. Making a complete nuisance of myself on this frantically busy set, I shangai Graham and his producer Patrick Clarke for an interview, taking them away from obviously more important work. I begin by asking them about a seemingly incongruous aspect of this production: it’s a low-budget period drama; surely that’s a contradiction in terms… Graham doesn’t quite agree: ‘It is a kind of a contradiction, but basically what we’re doing is getting a bunch of incredibly talented people who are very dedicated, and pulling out all the stops. Most of the time it really is a case of necessity being the mother of invention. They have to be very clever to be able to do what they do.’ Patrick goes further by informing me ‘Most people would define low-budget by the amount of money they have to shoot a film. That’s true in most cases, but here we’re shooting a Hollywood-type film with no money because people have been working for a reduced rate of pay. We’ve being getting a lot of help with locations, even just staying in people’s houses in Cavan. So we’ve been able to minimize costs. A lot of people aren’t getting paid anything because they’ve taken points at the end of the film, so if the film does well they’ll get paid. Everybody in the film is taking a risk.’