Aoife Crehan, Writer/Director of ‘The Last Right’

The Last Right is a comedy-drama road movie telling the story of a man bringing the body of someone he barely knows for burial with his family. His good intentions are motivated by trying to patch up his relationship with his own brother. However, en route from West Cork to Rathlin Island, both romance and family secrets emerge to complicate the trip.

In this podcast Gemma Creagh talks to  writer/director Aoife Crehan about her debut feature and guides us through the development process.


The Last Right is released in cinemas 6th December 2019.

 

Film Ireland Podcasts

 

 

Share

Irish Film Review: The Last Right

DIR/WRI: Aoife Crehan • DOP: Shane F. Kelly • DES: Alex Holmes • PRO: Pippa Cross, Paul Donovan, Casey Herbert • MUS: Gary Lightbody • DES: Neill Treacy • CAST: Brian Cox, Michiel Huisman, Colm Meaney

The Last Right involves two disparate passengers sat beside each other on a flight to Ireland who subsequently become connected by a shared surname and grief. Daniel Murphy is flying home for his mother’s funeral and Padraig Murphy is returning for his brother’s funeral. The latter is his brother’s only next of kin, and when Padraig passes away on the flight, it’s assumed Daniel is of the same Murphy family and the responsibilities for Padraig and his brother’s funerals fall upon Daniel. With his younger autistic brother Louis and his friend Mary in tow, Daniel embarks upon a reluctant road trip to bury Padraig and his brother together, despite a misunderstanding embroiling them in a police chase.

Aoife Crehan’s directorial debut is an impressive study on grief and isolation. Daniel (Michiel Huisman) and Padraig (Jim Norton) cross paths due to their respective losses within their families and their isolation stems from choice and circumstance. Daniel lives abroad whilst Padraig lost contact with his brother. Daniel has a fractured relationship with Louis (Samuel Bottomley) and wants to uproot Louis from Clonakilty to an autistic-focused boarding school in New York. The tension within their new family dynamic is eased with Mary’s (Niamh Algar) presence and in her encouragement of a road trip in bringing Padraig’s budgie-adorned cardboard coffin to the very north of Ireland to his intended resting place.

Niamh Algar is experiencing a stellar 2019 with remarkable performances in Shane Meadows’s The Virtues and Desiree Akhavan’s The Bisexual; displaying multifaceted characterisations in both. In The Last Right, Algar’s Mary is crucial in deflecting tension between Daniel and Louis and in burying Padraig alongside his brother. According to Mary, the relationship between Daniel and Louis “is more Eastenders than Rain Man”, and she offers levity despite her own vulnerabilities masked by her cheery exterior. Huisman is also adept in performing a character maintaining face despite numerous personal challenges. Bottomley impressively manages to portray both the subtleties of Louis’s autism and his emotionally-charged difficulties. 

Colm Meaney also appears as Detective Crowley who attempts to prevent Daniel from burying Padraig due to a mix-up as a result of Louis refusing to inform Daniel he was relieved from his duties as Padraig’s surrogate next of kin. Meaney is essentially reprising his character from Intermission in an alternate universe and he offers lighter tonal elements to the narrative. He’s then involved in an enjoyable sequence with the road trippers via a phone-in to The Joe Duffy Show in an attempt to negotiate with the runaway coffin ‘thieves’.

The lighter tonal moments are necessary but at times the film doesn’t know what film it’s striving to become with them and some sequences are also almost too stage play-esque. It could be an Intermission-type film with its lighter moments but Crehan does, however, manage to create a cohesive tonal blend much like 2014’s Calvary. The cinematography is effective at capturing a rugged coastline/island aesthetic that works in tandem with the theme of isolation and grief. The isolation applies to Louis and his autism but Crehan succeeds in conveying that he is not unique in being an alienated character and he experiences similar emotions to those around him. For Mary, she appears strong and confident, but she’s in a professional and personal rut, much like Daniel, who struggles to involve Louis in his own life.

Overall, The Last Right is a thoughtful approach to grief and isolation with sadness and humour that will ultimately offer hope for its characters. It’s an unexpected road trip full of heartbreak, humour and human kindness. Aoife Crehan has helmed a film that will make you eager to see what she creates next.

Liam Hanlon

@Liam_Hanlon

106′ 39″
15A (see IFCO for details)

The Last Right is released 6th December 2019

Share

Review of Irish Film @ Cork Film Festival 2019: The Last Right

Kimberly Reyes checks in on new Irish comedy-drama The Last Right, Aoife Crehan’s feature debut, which premiered at the Cork Film Festival.

 

There are many reasons why one should not strike up a conversation with a nosey stranger on a long-haul flight. One of them would be ending up with an unwanted corpse to unload. This is the premise of newcomer Aoife Crehan’s comedy drama The Last Right. The film, written and directed by Crehan, plays on the tragedies of each of its character to create a humorous and absurd journey. 

Dutch actor Michiel Huisman has a fresh and alluring onscreen presence as Daniel Murphy, the film’s protagonist, an American who must come back ‘home,’ to Ireland, to deal with some unfinished business. Samuel Bottomley’s performance as the autistic teen Lois (Daniel’s main business) is even more affecting. 

But if you’ve seen Weekend at Bernie’sRain Man and The Legend of Billie Jean, you’ve kind of seen this film already, sans Irish accents and countryside. At points The Last Right is derivative enough to be parody: there’s a scene in which Daniel chases Lois in the rain as Lois runs out of the moving vehicle because he doesn’t feel safe. I sure hope Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman signed off on the tribute. But this scripting of autism doesn’t feel as tight and nuanced as it did in 1988 when Rainman was released, even if Hoffman’s character only represented a small percentage of autistics, as Lois oddly mentions in this film. 

And then there is the tired rom-com trope of a bad boy who keeps messing up after he reveals his dirty secret, which would lead many women to flee, but not his loyal, good-girl, manic pixie dream girl Mary (played by Niamh Algar). This setup is as old as the aforementioned movies the film “borrows” from, and it’s difficult to watch a woman earn a spot in a complicated man’s heart through enduring his meanness in this political climate. Having said that, the onscreen chemistry between Huisman and Algar is palpable. 

The movie shines when it centres on its characters’ lives in Ireland that could only take place in Ireland: a hilarious scene in a chipper, and relatable stories of Irish angst and youth (told as plot-tying reflection that could have been better served as flashback), and of course the stunning scenery of their journey from Clonakilty to Rathlin Island. And the journey’s pacing is entertaining most of the way through but making comedy out of tragedy is an Irish specialty that shouldn’t need to borrow any Americanness.

The Last Right screened on Thursday, 14th November as part of the 2019 Cork Film Festival (7 – 17 November).

 

The Last Right is released in Irish cinemas on 6th December 2019.

 

Share

Award Winners Announced for the 64th Cork Film Festival

Ciúnas (Silence)’, winner of the Grand Prix Irish Short. Tristan Heanue accepts the award from Colm Crowley, Head of RTE Cork

Documentary short Horse Riders has won the inaugural Academy Awards® qualifying of Grand Prix Documentary Short Award at the 64th Cork Film Festival this evening (17 November). The film, directed by Anna Gawlita, now joins the longlist for the Academy Awards® in 2021. This brings to three Academy Awards® qualifying awards at the Cork Film Festival, the only film festival in Ireland to have this trio. The awards were presented ahead of the Closing Night Gala at the Everyman, with the Irish premiere of The Other Lamb, directed by Małgorzata Szumowska.

The Festival’s further Academy Awards® qualifying award, the Grand Prix Irish Short Award, went to Tristan Heanue’s Ciúnas (Silence). Proudly presented by RTÉ, Principal Media Partner of the Cork Film Festival, the award was presented by Colm Crowley, Head of RTÉ Cork. Also qualifying for the Academy Awards® in 2021, Stalker, directed by Christopher Andrews took home the Grand Prix International Short Award.

Cork Film Festival Director and CEO Fiona Clark said: “As Ireland’s only film festival to present three Academy Awards® qualifying awards, we are delighted to announce Anna Gawlita’s Horse Riders as the winner of the Grand Prix Documentary Short Award at the 64th Cork Film Festival. It is an exceptional documentary short and one that is thoroughly deserving of being longlisted for an Oscar®. The eye-catching film tells the story of an annual horse pilgrimage in a Polish village, an old regional tradition being kept alive in southern Poland.

“Tristan Heanue’s Irish-language short film Ciúnas (Silence) took home the second Academy Awards® qualifying award, the Grand Prix Irish Short Award, and is the winner of the €1,500 prize fund. It is a stunning film about a couple who embark on a journey in the midst of a family crisis. Stalker, directed by Christopher Andrews, was awarded the Grand Prix International Short Award, our third Academy Awards® qualifying award. Set in the remote forests of the Scottish Highlands, the film sets the scene of an ageing stalker as he goes up against a young poacher who is taking the heads off his best stags.”

Commenting on the Awards, Fiona added: “Cork Film Festival’s awards demonstrate our commitment to presenting and celebrating excellence in filmmaking, championing new and emerging voices, as well as established filmmakers. The Festival embraces features and short film with equal respect, and as a growing destination for feature documentaries as well as narrative work, we pride ourselves as the platform to showcase the very best of Irish and international film in Ireland. Our Awards Ceremony honours the diverse talent presented during the 64th Cork Film Festival and this year’s winning films exemplify the quality and diversity we have showcased. We are delighted to close out the Festival with the Irish premiere of new Irish drama, The Other Lamb, a film supported by Screen Ireland, and the English-language debut of director Małgorzata Szumowska, one of the most thrilling emerging voices in world cinema.”

The Audience Award, presented by The River Lee, Principal Accommodation Partner, was won by The Last Right, written and directed by Aoife Crehan. Directorial debut, and World Premiere at the 64th Cork Film Festival, this comedy-drama follows New York-based Daniel Murphy who ends up being tasked with bringing the body of someone he barely knows home for burial.

The Gradam Spiorad Na Féile / Spirit of The Festival Award, proudly presented by The Gate Cinema, Principal Venue Partner, went to Carlo Mirabella-Davis’ directorial debut Swallow. This film depicts the struggle a young housewife and the increasing pressures of perfection as she begins to consume dangerous objects in an attempt to take back control.

The Gradam Na Féile Do Scannáin Faisnéise / Award for Cinematic Documentary was awarded to Feras Fayyad’s exceptional film, The Cave, which presents a harrowing account of one woman’s efforts to provide medical care in war-ravaged Syria. The impact of this important film on audiences is further reflected in it being awarded the Cork Film Festival Youth Jury Award, the second time for Feras Fayyad (‘Last Men in Aleppo’, CFF 2017).

The Cork Film Festival Short Film Candidate for the 2020 European Film Awards is Things That Happen in the Bathroom, directed by Edward Hancox. This short film explores issues relating to loneliness, sexual insecurities and expectations.

Other prize winners announced at the Awards ceremony, which was hosted by master of ceremonies, Dave Mac Ardle (RedFM), included the award for the Best Cork Short, proudly presented by Media Partner RedFM, which was won by Olivia J Middleton for her film, Rosalyn, a compelling horror that explores the fragility of mental health during pregnancy.

The award for Best Director: Irish Short, supported by Screen Directors’ Guild Ireland, went to Michael-David McKernan, for his short film Halo. A single-take film, this short tells the tale of a lonely taxi driver who takes drastic action to protect a passenger from heartbreak.

Speaking on the 64th Cork Film Festival, Fiona Clark stated: “It has been an exciting, thought-provoking and inspiring 11 days of stunning film here in Cork. The breadth and quality of the programme, with over 300 films and 63 countries represented, has made this year’s Festival an unforgettable experience for everyone involved.

“With 20,000 people attending this year’s Festival, we look forward to building on this success in 2020, our 65th anniversary, and beyond, and would like to thank all our funders, sponsors, partners, friends, jurors, filmmakers and audience who together make Cork Film Festival possible.”

 

List of Winners:

  • Ciúnas (Silence), directed by Tristan Heanue — Grand Prix Irish Short Award, Proudly supported by RTÉ
  • Stalker, directed by Christopher Andrews — Grand Prix International Short Award
  • Horse Riders, directed by  Anna Gawlita — Grand Prix Documentary Short Award
  • The Last Right, directed by Aoife Crehan — Audience Award, Presented by The River Lee
  • The Cave, directed by Feras Fayyad — Gradam na Féile do Scannáin Faisnéise (Award for Cinematic Documentary)
  • Swallow, directed by Carlo Mirabella-Davis — Gradam Spiorad na Féile (Spirit of the Festival Award), Presented by The Gate Cinema
  • Things That Happen in the Bathroom, directed by Edward Hancox — Cork Film Festival Candidate for the European Film Awards 2020
  • Rosalyn, directed by Olivia J Middleton — Best Cork Short Award, Presented by Red FM
  • Michael-David McKernan, director of Halo — Best Director: Irish Short, Supported by Screen Directors Guild Ireland
  • The Cave, directed by Feras Fayyad — Cork Film Festival Youth Jury Award.
Share