Show me the money – ★★½
Lance Daly made his name with rather nice wee Irish film Kisses, before making the unseen Orlando Bloom-starring dud The Good Doctor. His latest work Life’s a Breeze is being billed as one of Ireland’s first “recession comedies”.
The film sees Fionnuala Flanagan as head of a family who are all experiencing hard financial times. One of these children, Pat Shortt’s Colm still lives at home and collects the dole. The rest loiter around and are doing what they can to get by. Her only featured grandchild Emma (first-time actor Kelly Thornton) isn’t having a great time in school and hates having to call into her old Nan’s house every day with the newspaper. One day Emma is instructed to take her out for a day leaving the adult children alone to tidy out the house. They do a big clear-out which involves replacing the beds and mattresses – the only problem is Nan’s mattress supposedly had the guts of a million euro stuffed into it. The family hatch a plan to find it before it ends up incinerated or buried in landfill, but the slightly daft Colm decides the best of action is to appeal to the public (via Joe Duffy) to help them find it. Cue scenes of national mayhem as everyone tries to find the mattress for themselves.
It’s billed as a comedy but this reviewer experienced plenty of smiles but no real belly laughs. The adult kids are all insensitive, ageist eejits who are too self-obsessed to hold any regard for the well-being of the woman who brought them up while dealing with an alcoholic husband who couldn’t connect with his family. Rather than commend her on amassing fifty years of savings, she is ridiculed for being a senile old bat who should have known better than to keep money at home. One scene in particular is particularly jarring as the kids arrange for Nan to have a fire-man stripper come around to the house and perform for her on the occasion of her 80th birthday. We’re meant to come to embrace this family like we have done with similar motley crues in Roddy Doyle adaptations but Daly’s script paints the siblings as insufferable characters.
The brightest light in the film are the brilliant performances of Fionnuala Flanagan and Kelly Thornton with the film at its very best when these two are left alone to work off one another showcasing the grandmother and granddaughter dynamic they’ve built up. Thornton won the Bingham Ray New Talent Award at the 2013 Galway Film Fleadh for the performance and she has marked herself out as one to watch.
Daly’s script may be seriously flawed but the broad comedy will appeal to a lot of middle Ireland. You sense that he may have wanted to make a much darker film with beautiful landfill scenes and a sequence near the film’s conclusion in a derelict old mill showcasing his ability as a director to show the grimier side of Dublin, however instead we got quite a different film.
In short(t), Life’s a Breeze will be perfect Sunday evening family TV fodder.
Released nationwide in Ireland on July 19th.