Sunday, July 01, 2018

Dublin Oldschool – a cinematic tale of two prodigal sons beset by poetry (QFT until 5 July)

While it opens with pumping music and a poetic voiceover, that in no way qualifies Dublin Oldschool to be labelled as Dublin’s version of Trainspotting.

This new film follows DJ Jason (Emmet Kirwan) and his drug-taking, sometimes drug-dealing, friends as they have hazy, crazy adventures across Ireland’s capital, running from the police, running from each other, and ultimately running from themselves.

The emotional thread driving the story is the strained reunion of two brothers who have to decide whether blood is thicker than (cans of) lager. The city of Dublin looks well with its maze of back streets and off-the-beaten-track shops providing the backdrop to much of the story.

Emmet Kirwan has a face shaped by a thousand tales and grabs attention as the film’s lead when he is on screen. (He also wrote and starred in the original play of the same name.) Given Jason’s hectic and itinerant lifestyle over the weekend depicted by the film, his lack of stubble is remarkable, perhaps even miraculous. Long-lost bedraggled brother Daniel is a heroin addict – a less recreational addict – and is played by a hirsute Ian Lloyd Anderson (the other half of the original two-man show).

While Jason’s ex, Gemma (Seána Kerslake), adds a further broken relationship to the mix, it’s another woman – Lisa, played by Sarah Greene – who continually steals scenes with a wee sideways look or a good line, yet her character is never fully developed.

Directed and co-written by Dave Tynan, at its best Dublin Oldschool reminds me of the self-discovery masterpiece Daphne. But the obsession with performance poetry proves to be a stylish distraction and while a succession of house parties and a rave in a rural idyll are musically upbeat, the film ends weakly having celebrated drug-taking without anyone feeling the pain.

Dublin Oldschool is being screened at Queen’s Film Theatre until Thursday 5 July.

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