Liam O’Leary (Brendan Gleeson) has done very well in the booming Irish economy. A successful developer, he is in the process of trying to get a massive project approved, one that the future of his firm is riding on. So things are actually rather tough for him right now at work. At home, meanwhile, he and his wife (Kim Cattrall) have reached a rather chilly stage of their marriage, and his son (Briain Gleeson, and yes, Brendan’s actual son) is feeling quite alienated, not to mention disgusted with the capitalist excesses that surround him. Stressful as all of this is, things are about to get much worse, as he starts seeing his double (Gleeson again). Is he hallucinating? Is it a supernatural visitation? The answer is both more earth-bound and wild, and before he knows it, his entire existence is turned upside down.
Director John Boorman has given us some pretty memorable films over the years (Deliverance and Excalibur to name but two). He is also drawn to the idea of filming parables (Zardoz being the most bizarre example). He’s back in parable area here, crafting a thriller that is in fact a meditation on the human costs of Ireland’s rapid economic development. The film’s heart is in the right place, the performances (especially Gleeson’s) are strong, and there are some nice twists. But the “author’s message” neon sign is flashing rather brightly – one is rather more conscious than one should be of hearing a sermon, and the sudden shift from realist thriller to something altogether more outrageous and fantastic can be a bit jarring, if one doesn’t see the film in metaphoric terms from the start.
The picture is very clean and sharp, and there are no grain or artifacting problems present. Night scenes are clear and murk-free. The colours, though, seem a bit pale. The flesh tones are so light that everyone looks like they are in serious need of a bit more sunshine. Otherwise, though, the transfer looks solid.
The music is clear and strong, and there are some nice environmental effects. Nothing room-shaking, mind you, but then, that isn’t the kind of film this is, either. The dialogue is free of distortion. What we’re talking about here, then, is a thoroughly pleasant listening experience.
The film is entertaining and earnest, with the latter quality sometimes creating a awkward lurches in the film’s narrative rhythm and coherence. Worth catching, though.