The 15th Irish Film Festival, Boston took place over four days from 19th – 22nd March 2015 at the Somerville Theatre, Davis Square. Alexis Sullivan, a student at Boston College, attended the festival and talked to some of the filmmakers who were there presenting their films.
In this podcast Alexis chats to Niall Heery the writer/director of Gold, an offbeat comedy about an estranged father who returns to his hometown after an absence of ten years to reconnect with his teenage daughter and ex-wife.
Gold screened on Thursday, 19th March 2015 at the Irish Film Festival, Boston.
DIR: Niall Heery • WRI: Brendan Heery, Niall Heery •PRO: Tristan Lynch, Aoife O’Sullivan • DOP: Tim Fleming • ED: Tony Cranstoun • DES: Padraig O’Neill • MUS: Niall Byrne • CAST: David Wilmot, James Nesbitt, Kerry Condon, Maisie Williams
Niall Heery’s second feature-length film focuses on a semi-rural Irish family and how they cope when Alice’s (Kerry Condon) ex comes back into their life. Ray (David Wilmot) has returned to both connect with his daughter, Abbie (Maisie Williams), and visit his dying father. Twelve years since he abandoned Alice, she and Abbie have moved in with Ray’s former P.E teacher, Frank McGunn (James Nesbitt). Frank is driving his step-daughter to excel at track-and-field, and has his sights set on creating a new running technique that will “Change the lives of millions”.
Gold is a decent film, with some good qualities. One of the stand-out aspects of the film is Nesbitt’s performance as the self-obsessed and deluded Frank McGunn. Nesbitt’s performance here is real quality, and some of his lines are brilliant. (When they enter woods where Abbie runs, he warns, “One wrong move, they’ll be dragging you out in a body bag”). Perhaps the funniest facet of the film is his glorifying running videos, in which he discusses the life-changing running technique he has developed. These really show how driven and absurd his character is.
In general, the acting throughout the film is good. Condon gives a strong performance as McGunn’s overshadowed wife. It is clear that his infatuation with sport has made him forget the family he has. The film revolves around two major points. The first is how it tackles one of the biggest conundrum’s in Irish society today, the rise in suicide rates and, in particular, how it is still viewed as a taboo subject. The sense of shame people can feel at a family member committing or attempting suicide is well portrayed here. There is even the suggestion by one of Abbie’s friends that, since her biological father Ray attempted suicide, she is much more prone to attempting something similar in the future. It is also notable how the characters actually struggle to say the word suicide itself.
The other aforementioned facet is the pressures that Abbie is constantly under from her stepfather. It shows how unhealthy this can be for both parties involved, as Frank’s personal life has suffered, while Abbie ultimately cheats to give him the deluded thought that his new running technique is helping her improve. In a short space of time, he goes from thinking she has justified all his work to suddenly supporting her as she struggles just as Ray had before her.
However, the film does have its deficits. The above points, particularly the one on suicide, is not developed enough. When we are first made aware of the characters’ unease with the topic, it is expected that the film will primarily deal with the issue. However, as the film progresses, events take place that leave the viewer rather bemused as to what the film’s stand on suicide really is. Also, the fact that Alice, after being abandoned by Ray, moves in with his former P.E teacher, just seems completely implausible. While Condon gives a brilliant performance, the way her character is written and the choices she makes can make her seem odd.
The ending itself also feels strange as the film skips forward a few weeks and certain resolutions seem to come from nowhere. However, the film stands up well, with Heery’s directing very solid througout.
IFTA winning Niall Heery’s latest film Gold, which stars Screen International’s ‘Star of Tomorrow’ Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones), David Wilmot (Calvary), Kerry Condon (The Runway) and James Nesbitt (The Hobbit), will be released in Irish cinemas this autumn.
Out of their lives for 12 years, Ray (Wilmot) is on a mission to re-connect with his ex-girlfriend (Condon) and teenage daughter (Williams) who live with his former controlling and regimented P.E. teacher (Nesbitt). Unfortunately his efforts to bridge the gap with his daughter seem to lead to chaos turning any good intentions he may have into comic catastrophe.
Heery previously won the Breakthrough Talent Award at the IFTA’s for his first feature Small Engine Repair.
Gold was produced by Tristan Orpen Lynch and Aoife O’Sullivan for Irish production company Suboticain association with Gloucester Place Films with funding from Bord Scannán na hÉireann / the Irish Film Board and the BAI.
Gold, the feelgood comedy by IFTA-winning writer/director Niall Heery, is to screen at the 26th annual Galway Film Fleadh. Featuring performances from the likes of James Nesbit, David Wilmot, Kerry Condon and Game of Thrones‘ Maisie Williams, the film focuses on the hilarity of everyday life.
Gold centres around Ray (Wilmot), who resolves to seek out his estranged ex-partner (Condon) and teenage daughter (Williams) so that his dying father can see his granddaughter one last time. When he tracks them down he discovers that they now live with his former P.E. teacher, the controlling and regimented Frank (James Nesbitt).
Having previously screened at the Jameson Dublin Internation Film Festival , Gold went on to secure a North American distribution with indie distributor Synergetic back in May.
Tickets are available to book from the Town Hall Theatre on 091 569777, or at www.tht.ie.
Director Niall Heery and members of the cast will attend. Director: Niall Heery Cast: David Wilmot, James Nesbitt, Maisie Williams, Kerry Condon Script: Niall Heery, Brendan Heery Producers: Tristan Orpen Lynch, Aoife O’Sullivan
The Irish feature comedy Gold, written and directed by IFTA-winning Niall Heery (Small Engine Repair) and funded by Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board (IFB) stars David Wilmot (Ripper Street, Shadow Dancer), James Nesbitt (The Hobbit) and Kerry Condon (This Must Be The Place, The Runway).
Wilmot plays a wandering loner, Ray, who tries to track down his estranged ex-partner (Condon) and teenage daughter (played by Maisie Williams) so that his dying father can see his grand-daughter one last time.
Speaking to Film Ireland, director Niall Heery said, “Gold is a comedy about a disconnected man, played by David Wilmot, who returns to his hometown in order to visit his ailing father. He finds himself forced to reconnect with his estranged daughter and ex-partner who have built a new life with his former PE Teacher, a regimental control freak played by Jimmy Nesbitt. He ends up moving into the trophy room in the house where they all live and proves to be an unruly force of nature, unwittingly causing total mayhem and destruction.
“I’m delighted to have the film screening at the Dublin Film Festival. My first film Small Engine Repair played here and I was thrilled with the reception it got. I genuinely love the festival, it always has a really exciting programme. I’m sure it’ll prove to be a great platform for Gold.”
Tickets are available to book from Filmbase oronline here