Dir. Ian FitzGibbon. Ire. 2008. 88 mins
A bumbling, shaggy dog comedy descends into dark farce with ever-diminishing returns in the low-budget A Film With Me In It. This amiable effort from writer/star Mark Doherty offers some amusing moments but plays like a laboured, post-modern variation on a traditional stage farce. Love it or loathe it, this film carries a slightly self-satisfied air but should appeal to fans of lugubrious comic Dylan Moran, a memorable supporting presence in Shaun of The Dead and Run, Fat Boy, Run. It should enjoy a modest theatrical life in Ireland and offer some slender potential for UK distributor Vertigo.
The initial scenes suggest a foray into Waiting For Godot territory or at least a sub-Withnail &scenario. Unemployed actor Mark (Doherty) forlornly auditions for a bit part in a forthcoming film where the director is played by Neil Jordan. Mark’s lack of success proves endlessly exasperating to girlfriend Sally (Amy Huberman) but he is sustained by the support of best friend Pierce (Dylan Moran), a gambler, alcoholic and aspiring filmmaker writing a script in which Mark might appear.
Both men are eternally waiting for their big break and all three characters share a dilapidated death trap of a house. In fact, it is the terrible state of their accommodation that nudges the film in a different direction with a trio of accidental deaths caused by a falling chandelier, a wobbly stool and a variety of DIY implements.
Rather than regaling the police with a tall tale of these incredible coincidences, the hapless duo try to devise a plausible scenario that will dispose of the bodies, leave them in the clear and provide the basis of a viable screenplay for their long-cherished film.
Carrying familiar echoes of everything from the plays of Joe Orton to The Ladykillers and Arsenic And Old Lace, A Film With Me In It is never quite outrageous or sharp-witted enough to carry the audience along. The pacing is unvaried and after the first hour even the relatively brief running time starts to drag as the bodies pile up and any hint of believability evaporates.
Dylan Moran’s dry, shambling persona is well suited to the role of chancer Pierce and there is a good chemistry with Mark Doherty whose lean, lantern face and deadpan expression make him a Stan Laurel innocent trapped in these nightmare events. Kevin Allen makes the most of his brief screen time as short-tempered landlord Jack and whilst cameo appearances from Irish film luminaries Jordan, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Hugh O’Conor do raise a smile they also contribute to the self-indulgent tone.
Digital photography is functional but a claustrophobic house of loose shelves, flickering lightbulbs, broken locks and unhinged windows creates an atmospheric location for the mayhem that follows and underlines how easily the whole thing might work on stage.
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