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Patrick's Day: Compelling and uncomfortable, but with black comic interludes

By Simon Fallaha

Published 21/04/2015

The early moments of Terry McMahon's Patrick's Day suggest a Silver Linings Playbook in the Dublin streets, with two lost and damaged souls - in this case a schizophrenic virgin and a suicidal flight attendant - set to fall in love.

But if Patrick's Day was as simple as that, it wouldn't have garnered as many accolades as it has, least of all from Nicolas Roeg. For the love story seemingly at the core of Patrick's Day will slowly, but surely, explode into a series of well-intentioned but misguided and sometimes malevolent actions that will have repercussions on all sides of this multi-dimensional story.

Neither a basic romance nor a simple chronicle of mental illness, Patrick's Day is really about care, control, consequence, and above all, people who have more in common with each other than any of them would admit. It is utterly compelling.

The central strength of Patrick's Day lies in the stark humanity inherent in a tightly woven narrative.

All four central actors - Kerry Fox, Moe Dunford, Philip Jackson and Catherine Walker - grasp their roles wholeheartedly. Simultaneously, the claustrophobic, point-of-view camera work is useful in conveying complexities in both mental illness and facades of normality. It's an aesthetic that can, at times, be uncomfortably intimate, and even unbearably gritty.

But, lest Patrick's Day sound like too much of a downer, there are also blackly comic interludes, and possibly the most joyously uplifting use of Damien Dempsey imaginable.

Four stars

Belfast Telegraph

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