Sunday 20 August 2017

Movies: Savage * * *

(18, Limited Release)

Revenge is on the mind of Paul (Darren Healy)
Revenge is on the mind of Paul (Darren Healy)

Paul Whitington

With very few exceptions, Irish films have tended to be, to their detriment, long on blather and woefully short on visual imagination, but that is certainly not the case with Brendan Muldowney's Savage.

Set in the puke-and-blood-soaked Sodom and Begorrah Dublin beloved of post-Celtic Tiger directors, Muldowney's thriller goes a long way on a very slim premise thanks to his gritty and stylised framing.

There are touches, in fact, of Martin Scorsese's heightened and blur-edged Taxi Driver-era New York to the paranoid mean streets of Muldowney's urban thriller.

Darren Healy plays Paul Graynor, a mild-mannered photographer, who does crime work for the tabloid newspapers.

On his way home from a first, tentative date, something exceedingly unpleasant happens. Set upon by two central-casting scumbags, Paul wakes up in hospital several days later to find he has been castrated.

Muldowney, who also wrote the script, obviously chose this particular injury for a reason: losing one's cahones is the ultimate affront to macho swagger. And Savage examines the stages Paul goes through as he deals with this nightmarish scenario.

Paul has not, until now, had any predisposition towards violence, but after enduring a bout of paranoid agoraphobia, he's overcome with rage and begins to think of taking his revenge.

Savage, for the most part, looks terrific, and jarring sound effects help to draw you into Paul's unhappy, heightened world.

Unfortunately, though, that story plays out on one note, and doesn't really have any place to go but a baroque conclusion that clumsily hammers home the film's message. But there is still much to admire.

Irish Independent

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