Directed by Dave Tynan. Starring Emmet Kirwan, Ian Lloyd Anderson, Seana Kerslake, Sarah Greene, Ciaran Grace, Mark O’Halloran.
The Plot: Thirtysomething Jason (Emmet Kirwan) works in a Dublin record store for Bates (Mark O’Halloran). He also moonlights as a DJ, where he relives the beats and raves of his younger self. Looking forward to the Bank Holiday weekend, he plans some house parties with mates Lisa (Sarah Greene) and Glen (Ciaran Grace). It’s at this point that he runs into his estranged older brother Daniel (Ian Lloyd Anderson) living on the streets. Daniel is a junkie and has returned home from London, having disappeared for a few years. Initially hostile towards each other, their personal Cold War starts to thaw as they reconnect. Jason also reconnects with his ex Gemma (Sean Kerslake), who he still has a thing for. This weekend might just be life-changing…
The Verdict: Dublin Oldschool begins in suitable fashion with two Dublin gurriers harassing Jason as he ‘rests’ on the footpath. It’s an amusing start to this vivid slice of Dublin life, as viewed through the prism of the relationship between two brothers who have lost each other. Co-writer and actor Emmet Kirwan has adapted his own stage play here for the screen with the help of debut director Dave Tynan. Not that you would know it, as there’s no staginess or projected acting here. Instead, Dublin itself becomes a character as much as an environment, thereby enriching the multi-layered script.
There’s an authentic Dublin feel to the dialogue, characters, humour and use of urban shooting locations. This is best exemplified in the street scenes between Jason and Daniel. There’s a raw honesty about their relationship with each other. They’re still family, but have a lot of turbulent history together. While Daniel is still getting his life back together, Jason has made something of himself. However, Jason was only one step away from hard drugs ruining his life. Kirwan and Llloyd Anderson do sterling work here, bringing out the best in each other’s performances. There’s a hard edge here, but also a touching sincerity. A strong supporting cast, including rising star Kerslake, flesh out the colourful supporting characters too.
For a first-time feature director, Tynan directs with the confidence of someone already on their third or fourth film. There’s no uneasiness in his direction or hint that he’s still finding his feet. All those years making short films have paid off, as he’s honed his skills by finding what makes characters tick over a longer running time. With flawed but likeable Dublin characters like this, who can argue with that? He injects a buzzing, kinetic energy into the film too, recalling the rave scene of the pre-Celtic Tiger 1990s. The film moves very much to the beat of its own heart, which is lively and consistently engaging. Early on, Jason recalls that the past is a river that you can’t swim upstream. Dublin Oldschool manages to do that, blending the past and the present into a bleedin’ deadly contemporary take on Dublin street life.