Brothers in arms: Frank, Joe and Ray (McDonald, Kinlan and Mullen) face a particularly tenacious cop...

Saltwater

dir-scr Conor McPherson
with Peter McDonald, Conor Mullen, Laurence Kinlan, Brian Cox, Brendan Gleeson, Valerie Spelman, Caroline O'Boyle, Eva Birthistle, Gina Moxley, Olwen Fouere, Simon Jewell, Sean O'Flanagan
release UK 5.Jan.01
BBC 00/UK 1h37 2 out of 5 stars
REVIEW BY RICH CLINE
A nicely comic tone and an engaging cast are the selling points of playwright-screenwriter McPherson's directoral debut. Alas, there's rather more to complain about than praise in this film. It's about two brothers: Frank (McDonald) is in his 20s, works in the family fish and chip shop and is beside himself about the fact that Dad (Cox) is in debt to a local bookie/loan shark (Gleeson). So he decides to do something drastic about it. Meanwhile, younger brother Joe (Kinlan) is still grieving over their mother's death, drifting along in school and falling in with a very dodgy new student. Meanwhile, their sister's boyfriend Ray (Mullen), a philosophy professor, is having moral dilemmas of his own ... and making all the wrong decisions.

The problems are in the film's structure--no character emerges at the centre and there's no sense of ensemble to hold it together. So it's left floundering, fragmented, meandering through scene after scene with all sorts of interesting people we never care about. And it never goes anywhere meaningful. The actors are good, especially Kinlan, and the moral struggles are quite real, even if there are so many of them that we never get a chance to really chew on anything. McPherson (I Went Down) shows a gift for introspective dialog and intriguing scene-setting. But the overall film is uneven and uninvolving, lacking both a logical story and any real insight into the characters or situations.

[15--adult themes and situations, language] 2.Jan.01

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2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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