Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2012

Opening Gala: Cloudburst

Thursday, 16th February, 7:30pm, Savoy

The 2012 Jameson Dublin International Film Festival launched earlier tonight in the lush setting of the Savoy cinema. Brenda Fricker attended the Opening Gala screening of Thom Fitzgerald’s comedy Cloudburst, in which Fricker stars alongside Olympia Dukakis as two elderly lesbians in love. Dot (Fricker) and Stella (Dukakis) have lived together and loved each other for 30 years. After Dot is taken from her home by her granddaughter, Molly, and put in a home, Stella plots a geriatric breakout out and the pair set off on a road trip to Canada where they plan to get married. Along the way they pick up a young hitchhiker (Ryan Doucette), who’s on his way to see his dying mother.

Festival director Grainne Humphreys was on hand to officially launch the festival, now in its tenth year, and introduced Cloudburst to a packed cinema as a ‘really special film’ and recalled the ‘joyous experience’ she’d had watching the film and laughing for 2 hours. Grainne welcomed writer/director Thom Fitzgerald to introduce his film, which is his first new movie since 2005’s 3 Needles, followed by our very own Brenda Fricker, who’s starring in two films at this year’s festival (Cloudburst and Albert Nobbs). Brenda told the audience how she had pestered Grainne to watch the film as it was so beautifully written and made.

Fitzgerald explained how Brenda came to be in the film – he had written the part of Stella specifically for Dukakis, with whom he had worked  before. He had originally written the character Dot for Joan Orenstein, who sadly passed away while he was writing the film. He said he knew that Brenda would have ‘the bravery, the strength and the softness’ to take on the role of Dot. He thanked Brenda and told an enthusiastic audience that he now knows everything there is to know about geriatric lesbians. With proceedings taken care of the audience sat back as the curtain opened and Cloudburst took over Savoy 1.

The film delivered the laughs the introduction had promised and proved to be a real crowd-pleaser providing the perfect start to the festival. There’s a wonderful chemistry on screen between Dukakis and Fricker and the film never takes easy refuge in sentimentality and plays it in an honest manner true to the reality of a relationship that has lasted so long. Dukakis’ butch Stella is a foul-mouthed juggernaut who holds nothing back and it is her belligerent set of balls that stoke the comedy throughout the film. Her passionate commitment to Dot is a testament to their long-term relationship. Fricker’s gentle Dot provides an unpretentious softness and depth to proceedings and allows for a genuine tenderness to shine. Fricker has that rare quality of seeming not to be acting and once again proves herself to be the ‘national treasure’ Grainne Humphreys described her as at the beginning of the evening.

Steven Galvin


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