Dir: Robert Quinn. Ireland. 2003. 85mins.
Dead Bodies achieves most of what it hopes to be: a low-budget, jokey thriller peopled by plot-expedient characters who are too young to develop character or motivation. But the debut feature from director Robert Quinn, , the first film shot in Ireland on high-definition, lacks the story, energy and style to prove itself theatrically overseas. The result is that this wannabe Anglo-American film noir, the first of the Irish Film Board's 60/40-funded, low-budget (approx Euros 1m) projects to reach the screen, is only likely to draw feelings of ennui from audiences. The Irish Film Board can only have backed this feature, as it says in its press release, "to proactively encourage Irish filmmaking and promote emerging talent." In its first weekend the film registered a weak $42,450 from 29 screens for a $1,464 average. Its best hopes lie in word-of-mouth among the sizeable Irish youth audience.
Gormless twenty-something Tommy (Scott) unintentionally gets back together with his good looks/bad attitude ex-girlfriend Jean (Davis), but her incessant carping sets her up for an accidental death at his hands. When Tommy goes to bury her body in the woods, he picks a spot where another woman was buried 10 years previously - and finds himself framed for the earlier killing. Reluctantly supported by best mate Noel (Healy), he tries to dig himself out of trouble, falling for sympathetic psychology student Viv (Reilly) before the final twist.
The cast acquit themselves reasonably well, given the script's limitations. But if the film wanted to realise its latent neo-noir ambitions then one character's oblique change of mood - the only possible source of real dramatic tension - should have been signalled far earlier on in the proceedings. Quinn, already a respected and internationally experienced first assistant director with a couple of award-winning short films to his name, shows he can put a story on the screen with energy. It is the best that can be expected, given the superficial script and tight budget he has been given to work with.
Prod cos: Irish Film Board, Hibernia Films, Distinguished Features
Ir dist: BVI (Ireland)
Int'l sales: Penelope Wolf & Associates
Exec prods: Kevin Menton, Rod Stoneman, Brendan McCarthy
Prods: David Mc Loughlin, Clare Scully
Scr: Derek Landy
Cinematography: Donal Gilligan
Prod des: Mark Geraghty
Ed: Dermot Diskin
Music: Ray Harman
Main cast: Kelly Reilly, Andrew Scott, Katy Davis, Gerard McSorley, Sean McGinley, Darren Healy