This is a guest post from Dublin-based journalist Sarah Neville.
“You should see this film, I’m great in it” – that’s what Brenda Fricker told JDIFF director Grainne Humphreys about Cloudburst according to its writer and director Thom Fitzgerald.
“Did I say that? Oh fuck,” the actress exclaimed to the audience at the gala opening of the festival in the Savoy cinema on Dublin’s O’Connell Street.
Humphreys recounted how the Oscar winner called her out of the blue to tell her to watch the film. When she did, she laughed harder than she had at anything in a long time. And so the film was chosen to be a part of Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.
Cloudburst tells the tale of a lesbian couple in the US played by Fricker and Olympia Dukakis. They are in their late 70s and have been living together for 31 years. Dotty (Fricker) is blind and when she fractures her arm after a fall, her granddaughter Molly wants to place her in a care home. These old lovers won’t be separated and take off on a Thelma and Louise style road trip north to Canada.
Fitzgerald wrote the role of Stella for Dukakis but sadly the actress he had in mind for Dotty died before the script was ready, leaving him with the challenge to find an actress with enough courage and humour for the role. He said he wanted Fricker and luckily she wasn’t one of the “famous bitches” Olympia refused to work with!
There was great banter and rapport between Fricker and the director: “I’ve waited a long time to get this man on Irish soil,” she said. And by the time the film started the 300 strong audience was well warmed up.
Cloudburst was unusual, alternative, humorous, at times shocking and most of all time great fun. When would you hear an elderly woman wish she could die with her head between KD Lange’s legs? Or take out a vibrator? As a road trip movie I felt it really did just that and took the audience on a voyage.
And the Savoy’s audience didn’t take much convincing with large sections belly laughing, crying out and even clapping from the get go.
At times you have to bare with some hammy acting on the part of the granddaughter played by Kristin Booth and her husband played by John Dunsworth as the plot line is set-up, but it’s worth the wait.
The same film done a different way would have left me leaving the Savoy with a red swollen face complete with ugly tear stains but Cloudburst chooses funny over sentimental every time.
I must give a special mention to Ryan Doucette who played the role of dancer Prentice and added a lot comedy and a dash of youth to proceedings (not to mention a washboard stomach that wouldn’t be out of place in Troy).
At times Cloudburst was a bit all over the place and at times it was really great. It lacked a certain amount of polish but there are one-liners in that film you won’t hear anywhere else.
Well worth a watch.
USA/Canada / Directed By: Thom Fitzgerald / Written By: Thom Fitzgerald / Starring: Olympia Dukakis, Kristin Booth, Brenda Fricker, Ryan Doucette, John Dunsworth / 93min / Comedy, Drama