PATRICK’S DAY (Ireland/15A/102mins)

Directed by Terry McMahon. Starring Moe Dunford, Kerry Fox, Catherine Walker, Philip Jackson, Aaron Monaghan, Conor Mullen, Tommy O’Neill, Donna Dent, Conor Mullen, David Herlihy.

THE PLOT: We open on Saint Patrick’s Day, Dublin, and Maura Fitzgerald (Fox) is taking her son, Patrick (Dunford), out from his care home for the day so they can celebrate his birthday. It’s an annual tradition, and the now-27-year-old Patrick knows the happy drill – hotel, silly wigs, parade, cake, fairground. Only this year, Patrick gets lost, on the ferris wheel, and as mum runs to the nearest Garda station (finding little solace in Philip Jackson’s dry detective-cum-budding-stand-up), Patrick finds himself being taken under the wing of self-destructive air hostess Karen (Walker). One beautifully-lit cherry-pop later, and all hell breaks loose, the lovestruck Patrick quickly realising that his mother is determined to be the only woman in his life. So much so, she’s prepared to do just about anything to keep it that way…

THE VERDICT: Talk about a great leap forward. Having rubbed up many a critic the wrong way – and a handful the right way – with his no-budget 2011 debut Charlie Casanova, Irish writer/director Terry McMahon has come a long way, baby, with his second feature. Already a festival favourite around the world (picking up awards from Cork and Galway to Woodstock and Berlin), Patrick’s Day may take about 20 minutes to find its feet (Walker struggles with the faux-Marlowe lines; Jackson is mildly ridiculous as the drowning/laughing policeman), but once it does – when the rug is pulled from underneath us, ironically enough – it plays like a dream. A bad dream, at times, but a dream nonetheless, Moe Dunford stunning as the manchild bursting to become a childish, charming man, and Kerry Fox perfectly poised as the over-protective mother determined to block out the eternal sunshine of her son’s sudden, unexpected balls-dropping love affair.

Having worked as an orderly in a mental home, McMahon has clearly witnessed the thin line between motherly love and Oedipus hate at play here, whilst, amidst a crew that goes well beyond the call of duty (including composer Ray Harman and editor Emer Reynolds), cinematographer Michael Lavelle deserves a special mention here, tripping the light fantastically as Patrick’s tightrope between heaven and hell begins to blur.

Jaw-droppingly good. And you can quote me on that.


Patricks Day
Review by Paul Byrne
5.0Great Irish Movie
  • filmbuff2011

    Last year was a good year for Irish cinema, with Calvary and Run And Jump being particular stand-outs. The first Irish film out of the gate this year, Patrick’s Day, looks set to keep up the trend. Patrick (Moe Dunford) is a sensitive young man. He’s not particularly worldly though, as he suffers from schizophrenia. Women are unknown to him. His concerned mother Maura (Kerry Fox) will do anything to protect him from the world. Patrick doesn’t check in at his mental health home on St Patrick’s Day. It’s his Birthday after all, so he goes into the city and celebrates. There he meets slightly older airline stewardess Karen (Catherine Walker), who is suffering from problems of her own. She’s bitter and suicidal, all broken up inside. What starts out as a one night stand develops into something more. Patrick saves Karen from herself and she in turn gives something to him: companionship. But Maura won’t stand for this and threatens to break them up, for Patrick’s sake… Terry McMahon’s previous film, Charlie Casanova, was a nasty piece of work. It was difficult and indigestible, leaving a sour taste in the mouth. It’s with great relief to announce that his second film is a revelation. Here he’s actually found a story and a character that audiences can sympathise with and root for. These are not straightforward movie characters – they’re fully 3-dimensional and jump off the page in all their flawed complexity and emotion. A little more backstory on Karen would have helped, but it’s a minor fault. The committed cast fully invest in their characters, so that we follow Patrick’s journey from naïve young man to a more hopeful young man. Make no mistake – Patrick’s Day is not a barrel of laughs and can be challenging viewing at times. But if you take a simple leap of faith with these characters, you will be richly rewarded and maybe even moved to tears. It’s that good. Highly recommended. ****