Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Flick of The Day: Between The Canals

The seamier side of Dublin is rarely delved too deep into on the cinema screen, and if it is, it is with a decidedly jaundiced view. The bad guys are never that bad (see Perrier's Bounty), the junkies are happy go lucky addicts (see Adam & Paul) and the ghetto can be escaped with a good heart and a song (see The Commitments). Sure, not everyone in north inner city Dublin is living on the margins of society, but there are those who are. Far too many. These are the kind of people that populate Between The Canals, a day in the life of 3 young small time criminals in Dublin. The day in question is St Patrick's Day.
Liam is the smartest of the trio has had enough of small time drug dealing and thieving. He wants to build a live for himself and his girlfriend. His two pals Dot and Scratchcard don't share his view and in Dot's case at least want to get deeper in to the life. Dot is the kind of dangerous psycho you pray you don't meet on a Dart or late night bus. Always desperate for a fight, he has the ability to get the boys into real trouble. The boys pass the day getting into and out of scrapes including crossing local boss Chambers, played with real menace by musician Damien Dempsey. Will Liam manage to escape or will he get dragged into a life of crime and will Dot survive the day, these are the questions at the heart of the plot.
The best thing that can be said about this film is that it feels real, it feels like a Dublin I know all too well. So often portrayed as a sleek urbania populated by people with middle class people with mid-Atlantic accents, this is Dublin how it is. Then inner city, particularly around Talbot St and Sheriff St, where this film is shot, has a horrendous drug problem. The 3 main characters are the kind of eminently dislikeable scumbags that you put up with on a daily basis. That's not to say that this film is too po faced, there is a lot of humour in their antics without in any way glamorising it.
Overall, the film is compelling and truthful but not compelling enough to get around the fact that the characters just aren't that worthy of your attention because lets face it, they're thugs. There is no glamour in thuggery, no upside to drug dealing, no bonus to being a junkie. The film is well made and well acted however and it is fresh to see somebody not attempt to place a sheen where there isn't one. I look forward to the director's next feature.

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