Directed by Mark O’Rowe. Starring Cillian Murphy, Catherine Walker, Andrew Scott, Eva Birthistle.
The Plot: DublinersJim (Cillian Murphy) and Danielle (Eva Birthistle) have been married for a good while now and have two tweenage children. They’re good friends with neighbours Chris (Andrew Scott) and Yvonne (Catherine Walker). They also have children and have settled into apparent suburban bliss. That is, except for Chris’ sudden outbursts. He’s not a well man, physically and mentally. One night, he hits Yvonne and she comes running to Jim and Danielle. Jim offers tea and sympathy to Yvonne in the coming days, but this only brings to the surface a hidden attraction between them. The opportunity presents itself and they begin a passionate affair, listening to their hearts and ignoring the potentially devastating consequences…
The Verdict: Mark O’Rowe has worked in both theatre and film as a writer, with Cillian Murphy in particular on a number of films (Perrier’s Bounty, Intermission). With The Delinquent Season – a title that alludes to the irresponsible behaviour of its characters – he takes up the director’s megaphone for the first time as well. It’s an auspicious directorial debut and a finely-tuned dissection of mid-life crises affecting two intersecting couples who thought they knew each other well. Films about self-destructive affairs are nothing new of course, but O’Rowe finds intriguing ways of putting his own Irish spin on the story.
The key to this is selling the idea to the audience that the director is being non-judgmental about his characters, Jim and Yvonne in particular. He’s simply presenting them as they are, foibles and all, falling in and out of lust / love until they come to their senses and try to re-establish some order in their lives. Murphy and Walker brilliantly play into this sudden avalanche of emotion, giving into it and yet retaining a constant nagging doubt about what they’re up to – and if they’ll be caught. There’s a sophistication in O’Rowe’s writing which must surely stem from his theatre background. He gives his characters depth and range, which his actors respond to in kind.
This does come at a slight cost though. There are few missteps along the way, like Jim putting his foot in it again (what is it with him?). There are also late character developments that need a bridging scene just to flesh out what just happened. However, these are minor quibbles in an otherwise enjoyable film with lots of talking points. The film ends very much as it begins, bringing full circle the idea that to err is human. It’s a neat, well-executed concept which wraps up the film in unexpected ways. The Delinquent Season is an affair to remember. It’ll be interesting to see what O’Rowe comes up with next.