Fight drama ends up on the ropes
Film Review: King of the Travellers (15A, limited release, 80 minutes) Director: Mark O'Connor Stars: Michael Collins, Thomas Collins, John Connors, Peter Coonan
At last year's Galway Film Fleadh, Mark O'Connor gave a rousing recital of his manifesto for new Irish cinema. In it he questioned the stultifying insistence on a perfect finished script, and argued that a singular cinematic voice can only be attained if the writer is also the director.
Which is all very well, provided someone is talented enough to do both, but that kind of facility is a lot rarer than Mr O'Connor seems to think. Ireland may be coming down with young Orson Welles and John Cassavetes, but I've seen little evidence of it, and O'Connor's new film King of the Travellers fails as a drama primarily because of its script.
A dour feature that seems to be reaching for a kind of poetic realism, it stars John Connors as John Paul Moorehouse, a burly young Traveller who's never quite recovered from seeing his father shot dead in front of him.
Daddy was a renowned bare-knuckle fighter, and Francis has followed in his footsteps, but a promising career as a professional boxer was thwarted by his tricky uncle, Francis (Michael Collins).
When a rival family called the Powers move back into the neighbourhood, John Paul is roped into a bare knuckle fight with one of them. He believes the Powers killed his father, but when he falls in love with young Winnie Power things get good and complicated.
King of the Travellers is competently acted for the most part, but moves along in stilted fashion and is littered with flat, clanging lines. Peter Coonan's wild overacting goes largely unchecked, but is probably the most interesting thing in this muddled and disappointingly clichéd offering.