Movies: 8.5 Hours *
(16, general release)
We Irish are a venal, red and blotchy bunch, who must surely repulse other nationalities and possibly even each other. That, at any rate, is the impression left by Brian Lally's 8.5 Hours, which ought to be declared poisonous to the cause of Irish tourism and the good of the nation generally. Produced on a very modest budget, it is supposed to be a damning indictment of those awful, vulgar boom-time Irish whom none of us will now admit to having been. But it ends up indicting itself and its lamentable lack of imagination instead.
8.5 Hours is set in the offices of a small but booming Dublin software company, and during the course of a (believe me) very long day, it flashes back and forth between the stressful, messy lives of four employees. Rachel (played by Lynette Callaghan, who is the nearest this film gets to pretty) is a shrill and pouting Celtic Tiger princess who is under pressure to get the wage increase that will allow her to seal the deal on a new apartment. Frank (Art Kearns) is a beaten down programmer who has just found out that his wife has been playing hide the salami with his best friend; Eoin (Victor Burke) is about to get married and wondering if now would be a good time to explain to his beloved that he is a secret homosexualist; and Tony (Jonathan Byrne) is a coke-sniffing cad who is about to get his comeuppance.
At least that is who they say they are, but we never believe them for a second because they're all caricatures skimmed from hearsay who pause every now and then to stare out of the nearest window and spout platitudes about how awful we all are -- or were. Also, they will do absolutely anything for a spot of oral sex, and flutes are whipped out with gay abandon. We were bad, sure, when we hit it big, but surely not as grotesque as this?