Since Irish writer Roddy Doyle has adapted three of his novels for the screen — The Commitments (1991), The Snapper (1993) and The Van (1996) — and managed to capture each book’s delicate balance of whimsy and lowlife verisimilitude, one might have had high hopes for his original screenplay, When Brendan Met Trudy. Which just makes this sloppy toss-off that much more of a disappointment.
Brendan (Peter McDonald), thin-lipped and handsomely buttoned-down, has the nerdy twin passions of movies and singing in the choir, while Trudy (Flora Montgomery) is free-spirited, spontaneous and a professional thief. Opposites attract and hilarity ensues — or at least that seems to be the idea.
Actually Brendan is frustratingly opaque and Trudy is annoyingly manic and one could care less if their romance blossoms or not, especially as the movie drifts from a kind of pseudo-realism to a kind of pseudo-fantasy without bothering to earn our indulgence.
Even worse, Brendan’s movie buffery is an excuse to pointlessly reference several classic films such as Sunset Boulevard, Once Upon a Time in the West and, most appallingly, Godard’s Breathless, which leads to the ghastly sight of Trudy hawking the New York Herald-Tribune à la Jean Seberg. Is nothing sacred?
There are a few good jokes scattered here and there, like the multiplex marquee whose listing includes The Usual Shite and Aimless Running 2, an amusing cameo from Gabriel Byrne and a witty closing credit sequence — but the subdued cuteness of Doyle’s previous scenarios here becomes the main thrust and point. Bah.
Opens Friday exclusively at the Star Rochester Hills (200 Barclay Circle, Rochester Hills) as part of the Shooting Gallery Film Series. Call 248-853-2260.
Richard C. Walls writes about the arts for the Metro Times. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.