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Thursday 27 April 2017

Review: Treacle Jr ***

(Club, IFI) HHHII

Paul Whitington

This is Tom Evans (Tom Fisher), who, for reasons that never become entirely clear, has opted out and intends to sleep rough and wander the London streets. But he's not prepared for life in the rough and on his first night he's chased by a gang and ends up breaking open his nose when he crashes into a tree.

At the emergency ward he's befriended by a talkative, ragged-looking Irishman called Aidan Murphy (Aidan Gillen), who has a speech impediment and possibly a screw loose and an annoying talent for stating the obvious. "You ran into a tree?" he asks Tom when he sees his nose, "I'd say that hurt, did it?"

When Tom leaves the hospital, Aidan follows him and, although he tries to shake him off, the Irishman proves very persistent. When Tom gets lightheaded, Aidan takes him back to his tiny flat and introduces him to his odious 'girlfriend' Linda (Riann Steele), a foulmouthed prostitute who is clearly using him.

"This is my new friend Tom," Aidan tells her. "He's a vegetarian and he doesn't believe in heaven." But Linda is unimpressed and kicks Tom out. Things get worse when he finds out he has lost all his money. But Tom and Aidan's paths will cross again, and they even strike up a kind of friendship when they search for a missing cat called Treacle.

Treacle Jr is a slight but tenderhearted and touching little film with a flimsy plot that's held together by some lovely performances.

Fisher has a mournful, ascetic-looking face and his character seems like a wounded saint adrift in an urban wilderness.

Steele gives depth to a character that might have remained one-dimensional.

Gillen's role is hastily sketched, and there are clumsy references to orphanhood and institutional abuse. But his performance is incredibly brave and funny and unlike anything he has attempted in his impressively varied career thus far.

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