The Dubliners – ★★★½
Colm Flynn’s observational documentary Mattress Men is the story of Ireland’s most famous mattress and bed salesman Michael Flynn, who with the help of his friend Paul Kelly, reinvented himself as Mattress Mick. The documentary was years in the making and debuted at the Toronto Hot Docs festival and the Sheffield Doc Fest earlier this year before landing in the IFI Documentary Festival at the end of September – now it’s being released into general release in Irish cinemas thanks to Element Pictures.
It’s an affectionately made and heart-warming documentary that anyone who has an interest in the psyche of middle-aged men will take a lot more. Paul in particular is a tragic, almost Shakespearean, presence. He has a dream of buying a family home in Santry, but in chasing that dream he feels he has to dedicate his life to making viral videos for his mate Mick – this all comes at the expense of losing touch with his girlfriend and her children. It’s a great insight of how people can lose perspective on the things they have as they fight for the things they want.
There’s some possible questions over just how Flynn’s access appeared to capture all the pivotal moments in this unique bromance – the fights, the YouTube upload, the betrayal, the reunions. In this day and age of reality TV, maybe it doesn’t matter a whole lot if the guys are playing up for the cameras, or heaven forbid some shots/scenarios being repeated and re-enacted for the cameras.
In this era where criminal gangs are more likely to get Dublin’s Northside into the news, Mattress Men works well as a reminder of all that’s good about the area and its characters. Areas like Coolock are hardly very glamourous on-camera but there’s something uplifting about seeing these men hard at work, and telling their stories of bucking the trends of recession and poverty.
All in all, its a light film but it’s one that is sure to warm your heart and bring plenty of smiles.
Released in Irish cinemas on October 7th 2016