Dir: Kieron J Walsh. UK-Ireland. 2000. 95 mins.
Prod co: Deadly Films 2/Collins Avenue Films. Int'l Sales: The Sales Company (44) 207 434 9061. Prod: Lynda Myles. Scr/Co-prod: Roddy Doyle. DoP: Ashley Rowe. Prod Des: Fiona Daly. Ed: Scott Thomas. Mus: Richard Hartley. Main cast: Peter McDonald, Flora Montgomery, Marie Mullen, Maynard Eziashi.
An odd-couple, romantic comedy steeped in movie buff references and dark humour, When Brendan Met Trudy has enough wit and quirky originality to find favour as a viable alternative to the candy-coated charmers of mainstream cinema. Bright performances from Peter McDonald and Flora Montgomery make the most of Roddy Doyle's energetic but uneven screenplay. A healthy prospect on its home territory of Ireland, the idiosyncratic qualities that distinguish it from the crowd may make it harder to place internationally.
Doffing its cap to Sunset Boulevard, the tale opens with Brendan (McDonald) face down in the gutter of a rain swept street reflecting on the bitter ironies of his life. It then proceeds to chart the quiet before and calamitous aftermath of his unlikely liaison with the ebullient Trudy (Montgomery).
An earnest, introverted, film-obsessed schoolteacher, Brendan inhabits a quiet world at the opposite extreme from Trudy's carefree, fun-loving party animal. From their first, awkward meeting, opposites do attract and as Brendan is pushed into increasingly uncharacteristic behaviour, he becomes convinced that he has found the Jean Seberg to his Jean-Paul Belmondo.
Equal parts angel and devil, Trudy is slowly revealed to be more of a handful than he could ever have imagined. As the story develops along the lines of yuppie-in-peril films like Something Wild, it manages to retain its comic spirits without shrinking from the consequences of Trudy's irresponsible and illegal actions. Often very funny, it sometimes strains too hard for the unconventional.
Filled with moments from The Quiet Man, Once Upon A Time In The West and The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, When Brendan Met Trudy remains a particular delight for those who share Brendan's passion for celluloid but doesn't exclude the cinematically-challenged from its potential admirers.