Aoife Fealy takes a look at Robert Higgins and Patrick McGivney’s debut feature.

No other film I’ve seen has captured the feeling of small town Irish living quite like Lakelands has – a place where your whole life either revolves around GAA, pints with the lads, and the farm, or you’re forced to leave to pursue bigger things. Written and directed by Robert Higgins and Patrick McGivney and filmed in their hometown of Granard, Co. Longford, this gem asks the question of what if you stayed, and you lost the ability to do the things that your life revolves around? 

Lakelands is a quiet, heartfelt and sometimes brutal portrayal of Cian Reilly (Éanna Hardwicke), a local footballer who may be past his prime and a regular down the pub, after he gets a bad knock outside a nightclub during  a drunken sesh with friends. Signed off from any strenuous activity, Cian tries to figure out who he is without the staples of football practice and farm labour and a life where he thought he had it all figured out. At the same time, Grace (Danielle Galligan) is home from London to look after her ailing father,  who is meeting the end of a life poorly lived, after being abroad for over 5 years. Together they try to navigate small town dynamics, rekindling a past connection that never really had time to bloom and keeping afloat at a time when neither knows who they are in the place they call home.  

Featuring fantastic performances from all of the cast, particularly Hardwicke, Galligan and Lorcan Cranitch who plays Cian’s father Diarmuid, as well as stellar direction, Lakelands confronts ideas of identity, loyalty and trauma as well as midlands masculinity, exploring where we draw the line between who we think we are and who we need to be. We get a wide range of portrayals, which many of us can connect with I’m sure, from Diarmuid and football coach Bernie’s (Gary Lydon) tough-love approach, to Cian’s friends Sparky (Dafhyd Flynn) and Doc (Oisin Robbins) just trying to make the most of it, to Grace’s feeling of disconnect from both her hometown and the vastness of London in comparison. It’s a solid production from Harp Media which will no doubt appeal to both local and international audiences, though it already has a place in the heart of this small-town native.  

Lakelands is in cineams from 5th May 2023.


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