PURSUIT (Ireland/15A/95mins)
Directed by Paul Mercier. Starring Liam Cunningham, Brendan Gleeson, Ruth Bradley, Barry Ward, Don Wycherley.
THE PLOT:
Based on the Irish folk tale of Diarmuid and Gráinne, Pursuit is the story of Gráinne (Ruth Bradley), who is betrothed to the much older Fionn (Liam Cunningham) with the hope that this will create peace between two rival gangs. As the happy day approaches, however, Gráinne leaves her husband-to-be, kidnaps his henchman Diarmuid (Barry Ward) – confessing she always loved him – and the pair go on the run for their lives.
THE VERDICT: The idea of taking an Irish folk tale and throwing it into an urban Irish setting is a fantastic idea for a movie, but one that doesn’t always work that well in ‘Pursuit’.
The transition from the mythological tale to the urban on the big screen makes a lot of sense and is done well, for the most part. However, there are times when names could have been changed without damaging the story, especially naming Gráinne’s father – the leader of one of the gangs – Mr King – after King Conor of the legend – feels a little precious and shoehorned in.
The cast do well with the story and certainly seem to be having fun with this Bonnie and Clyde-esque story, but it is also glaringly obvious that there are many varying levels of acting experience on the screen. Liam Cunningham excels as the dangerous and violent Fionn, Ruth Bradley makes Gráinne unpredictable but ultimately relatable, but some of the other actors come off rather stiff and wooden from time to time, making the film feel uneven.
The story is cleverly adapted for the screen by director Paul Mercier, and the action and romance work well together, but there are times when the pacing of the film struggles, and there are far too many strands, names and customs dragged from mythology into the present day.
RATING: 3/5
Review by Brogen Hayes

Pursuit
Review by Brogen Hayes
3.0Admirable
  • filmbuff2011

    It’s not easy being critical about homegrown films. The Irish film industry is relatively small, but we punch above our weight with the animation industry. There have also been some great live action Irish films recently like Glassland, Patrick’s Day and the upcoming charmer Older Than Ireland. Sadly, Pursuit isn’t likely to join them. It’s essentially a modern-day reworking of the legend of Diarmuid and Grainne. Dublin crime boss Fionn (Liam Cunningham) needs a woman in his life to balance out his temperament. He proposes a truce with rival crime boss Mr. King (Owen Roe). Figuring that they would be better off pooling their resources rather than fighting each other, Fionn pursues Mr. King’s younger daughter Grainne (Ruth Bradley) as a way of keeping the peace between them. She accepts and he proposes marriage. But she’s been playing him all along. For she actually prefers Fionn’s right-hand man Diarmuid (Barry Ward), whom she promptly kidnaps at gunpoint as a way of showing her appreciation. The two of them go on the run, pursued by both Fionn, Mr King and third parties who may or may not be friendly to their cause. A thaw sets in between Grainne and Diarmuid and they gradually fall hard for each other. With enemies closing in on every side, how long can they stay hidden? Paul Mercier’s first film since 2006’s football comedy Studs is certainly ambitious. You have to admire him for at least trying to capture both the past and the present in a story that feels both old and new. But somewhere in his script, he’s forgotten to tell a story that has a sense of purpose and some sort of ultimate meaning. He tries to go all Tarantino with the guns, swearing and car chases, but it jars disconcertingly with what is a tender love story about two conflicted souls. The acting is often amateurish, though that can’t be said for the reliably committed Cunningham. Sadly, there isn’t enough of him in the film to lift the other performances up to his standard. The ending is frankly laughable too. It crams about half an hour’s worth of plot into around 10 minutes, quickly skipping through it as if in a desperate race to wrap things up. Maybe Mercier was trying to paper over the holes in his script. Pursuit isn’t really that bad. It’s just very TV-like and just can’t get past its distinct whiff of averageness. Given that TV3 co-financed it, you’d be better off waiting for it to pop up there. **