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Home-grown kiss chase rattles along

a kiss for jed

(15A, limited release, 86 minutes )

Director: Maurice Linnane Stars: Mark O'Halloran, Jayne Wisener, Lee Arenberg


Is it just me, or does Mark O'Halloran look like a young James Stewart? Maybe I'm imagining things, but his lanky politeness and long-suffering bewilderment in this part reminded me of the great comic actor, and O'Halloran is by far the best thing in this slight but not dislikeable comic drama.

A Kiss for Jed's Irish protagonists arrive in New York on the slenderest of premises.

O'Halloran is Ray Timmons, a film lecturer and occasional documentary maker who has been sent to Manhattan to follow the fortunes of Orla (Jayne Wisener), a sparky 19-year-old from Antrim who came first in a bizarre Irish TV programme.

The 'Follow a Star' show has set young Orla the task of tracking down a winsome country music superstar called Jed Wood and planting a great big kiss on him.

If anyone can do it, Orla can, but with only a few days in New York to complete their task, she and Ray soon find that Jed is proving elusive, and desperate measures will be required.

Orla and Ray are accompanied on their aimless peregrinations by Mike (Lee Arenberg), a salty local soundman. His knowledge of the terrain proves useful, but the impetuous Orla soon grows tired of their lack of success and hooks up with another New Yorker, an oily character called Freddie (Rafael Sardina) who claims to be Jed Wood's chauffeur but seems more interested in contemplating Orla's behind than finding the singer.

Lugubrious and gloomy by nature, Ray watches despairingly from the sidelines, aghast at both the meaningless vulgarity of the project and his growing affection for Orla, a girl several decades his junior.

He'd rather be back in Dublin teaching film, or reading about his great obsession, the American Civil War, but the quest for Jed Wood will open his eyes about a great many things.

Written by Maurice Linnane and Barry Devlin and directed by Linnane on what I can only imagine was a shoestring budget, A Kiss for Jed is nicely made and rattles along quite pleasantly.

O'Halloran is excellent as the world-weary Ray, and gets a lot more out of his character than he might have. Wisener has a pleasant and energetic screen presence, and is quite believable as the wilful, star-struck teen.

But the film's meandering, open-ended plot is ultimately its undoing, and A Kiss for Jed would have needed to have been considerably funnier to justify its lack of activity.

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