Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


From the makers of 'Adam and Paul' comes another portrait of Ireland's small folk. 'Garage' swaps the junkies for garage attendants, but was that such a good idea?
Eschewing the drug-polluted towers of Ballymun for a rural petrol station, 'Garage', is a simple tale. Josie, a middle-aged garage attendant living a lonely existence in a small town, strikes up a friendship with his teenage assistant. Taking a little too much for granted, Josie, oversteps the mark. Throw in a VHS tape, some after work cans, and a horse that likes apples, and you know there's trouble on the way.
Pat Shortt as Josie, seems to be playing one of his Killinascuddy characters straight, but it is wholly appropriate. Josie, is an outsider, from his home/job in the garage on the fringes of town, to his inability to deal with, or even recognise, the scorn shown him by the town. Working for an old school friend, it is obvious that he is exploited, ridiculed and generally disregarded.
Josie's major flaw is his inability to communicate. This may be largely because he has nothing to say. There is some attempt made to create an inner life for the character, but this is no romanticised Forrest Gump. Simple is as simple does, and Josie is a simple character in every respect. It is probably because of this that it is so hard to really empathise with the character. We know he wants female companionship, but it's difficult to understand why. It is probably truer to say that company is what he most truly seems to want, but the desire is left as nebulous as that. We can pity him, but we can get no further. As he says himself, 'my head is empty'.
Apart from Shortt's successful performance, there is little here to hold the attention. Small Ireland looks ugly, the people even more so. The frequent longeurs and emphasis on character (even if that character is lacking) show the film to be aspiring to the European Art Film canon. However, despite echoes of 'Umberto D' and other Italian Neo-realist classics, it doesn't come up to the bar. This is a far cry from the pretentious shite Ireland was producing in the late 80s/early 90s, but it's no great step forward neither.
One memorable element sadly underused, is Stephen Rennick's Pärt-esque score. With so many pauses in the 'action', surely more could have been done with it.
A movie of silences and meaningful tableaux, 'Garage' is not a bad film, but it's stretching things to claim it as the masterpiece some critics have. While I love European Art Cinema more than most, I believe Ireland needs to develop its Film Industry (ie. make some money) before it can afford to indulge itself. 'Garage' is probably too much of an indulgence.



Post a Comment

<< Home