Tuesday 20 March 2018

Movies: Between the Canals * * *

(Club, IFI)

Paul Whitington

In the stylish prologue to Mark O'Connor's debut feature Between the Canals, photo stills of early 20th-century tenements draw a link between the Dublin of that time and the north inner city of today.

There were guns aplenty in Sean O'Casey's day, but while those were mainly put to patriotic use, today's weapons rest in the hands of moronic drug gangs that have poisoned entire communities.

There have been too many Irish films about Dublin gangsters of late, but Between the Canals offers an entirely fresh and original take on the subject, and gives the gangs a human face.

Liam (Dan Hyland) is a minor drug peddlar who's thinking about giving it all up to care for his girlfriend and their child. But his mates Dots (Peter Coonan) and Scratchcard (Stephen Jones) have other ideas and, after a row in a pool hall on the morning of St Patrick's Day, they fall foul of a local gang. Shooting in and around Sheriff Street and Amiens Street, O'Connor tells his story with energy and wit and uses his camera with constant purpose.

Sometimes his decision to work mainly with non-actors is problematic, but overall it gives an energy and veracity to his Mean Streets story.

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