An emotionally damaged young girl is so bitter about life that she lets her mustache grow. A macho, fame-craving cop smacks around junkies and pees on the leg of a local hoodlum in a neighborhood pub. A grocery clerk pukes when he’s ordered to clean up a particularly foul grocery item that has spilled onto the floor. A scorned housewife has an affair with a much younger man and punches him in the face during one of their loud and lively lovemaking sessions. A quadriplegic begs other customers in a bar to help him drink his Guinness. This is what passes for humor in this rancid Irish stew of a film directed by John Crowley.
It’s supposed to be one of those slice-o’-life tours de force that brings together a motley crew of characters to explore their poignant, humorous and fallible humanity. What it does, however, is make one nostalgic for films that have actually pulled that off without making us suffer through one unfunny or unrealistic premise after another.
The movie is set in a medium-size city in Ireland. The aforementioned grocery clerk, John (Cillian Murphy), has just suffered a breakup with his girlfriend, Deirdre (Kelly Macdonald), who is shacking up with Sam (Michael McElhatton), who has unceremoniously left his wife Noeleen (Deirdre O’Kane), who is getting back at him by screwing another grocery clerk by the name of Oscar (David Wilmot), who is deliriously enjoying the fact that he no longer suffers from erectile dysfunction or lonely evenings masturbating in front of his television. Finally, throw in the curly-haired ex-engineer of the Enterprise on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (Colm Meaney) as the over-the-top, egotistical, sadistic constable, Jerry Lynch, hunting down the over-the-top, egotistical, sadistic petty thief, Lehiff (Colin Farrell, who unleashes his native tongue to the point where the average American may find it impossible to understand him).
A young boy throws a rock at a bus, causing it to flip over. A man unzips his pants and whips out his unit to startle and tease his lover but finds himself startled when his lover’s mother walks through the door. A kidnapping plot is hatched that will not only exact revenge on an ex-lover, but will strike a blow for all those who suffer at the hands of the wealthy and the powerful. This is just a taste of what actually passes for plot points in this painfully self-important and depressing film. With every line, every character screams: “We’re in a slice-o’-life film! We’re in a crazy-mixed-up-quilt-that-ultimately-will-make-a-profound-statement-about-the-human-condition kind of film! Aren’t we a kooky bunch of flawed-but-redeemable humans?”
If you get through all of this without falling asleep or walking out of the theater, you might as well stay for the credits. Colin Farrell will serenade you with a fairly powerful version of “I Fought the Law.” It’s a small consolation for sitting through this mush, but you may as well take it. It’s way too late to get your money back.
Playing at the Main Art Theatre, 118 N. Main St., Royal Oak. Call 248-263-2111 for more information.
Dan DeMaggio writes about film for Metro Times. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.