Saturday 15 December 2018

The Delinquent Season review: 'O'Rowe is a talented artist but directorial debut is staggeringly stiff and surprisingly dull'

(15A)

Class acts: Cillian Murphy and Eva Birthistle in The Delinquent Season
Class acts: Cillian Murphy and Eva Birthistle in The Delinquent Season

Chris Wasser

OH boy. We should probably start with the obvious, which is that Mark O’Rowe — playwright, screenwriter and film-maker — is a very talented artist.

O’Rowe’s work on the stage, from the blistering, one-man odyssey, Howie the Rookie, to the searing familial drama, Our Few and Evil Days — is both exquisite and unparalleled. The man knows people. He knows his way around the theatre. But his screenwriting credits are a touch hit and miss. Intermission was grand. Perrier’s Bounty was worse. The Delinquent Season — O’Rowe’s film directorial debut — is a different beast, entirely.

For a start, it moves and breathes like a filmed play — and not a particularly good one. We’re in suburban Dublin. Jim (Cillian Murphy) is married to Danielle (Eva Birthistle). They live in a nice house. They have nice children. They share nice dinner parties with their mates, Yvonne (Catherine Walker) and her husband, Chris (Andrew Scott). But all is not well. Chris and Yvonne are having major problems. Chris is keeping a secret from his wife (he’s seriously ill, basically). He tells Jim about it. And what does Jim do in return? He has an affair with Yvonne.

Things eventually spill over into absurd, soap-opera territory. It’s worse, in fact. The weirdest thing about O’Rowe’s staggeringly stiff and surprisingly dull offering is that it seems to harbour a genuine belief that this is what real life — real love, real marriages, real people — looks and sounds like. The only problem is that no human being would ever utter such unintentionally hilarious dialogue.

 The whole darn thing is overwritten. Everyone is on autopilot. Everyone can do better. Nobody — especially a sleepy Murphy — is aware of just how bad a film they’re dealing with.

Again, O’Rowe is a talented chap. Alas, he’s missed the mark with this painful, preposterous and, occasionally, pathetic melodrama.

Also out this week: Movies reviews: The Delinquent, Beast, The Wound, The Old Dark Horse

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