Moon Dogs

****

Reviewed by: Robert Munro

The Moon Dogs cast and crew will join the EIFF Youth Hub on June 17.
"A really enjoyable piece of Celtic cinema."

Heard the one about the Scotsman, the Welshman and the Irishwoman? This trio of lusty teens, composed of step-brothers Michael (the Welshman) and Thor (the Scotsman, or perhaps more accurately Shetlander), plus Caitlin (the Irishwoman), embark upon a road (and boat) trip from Shetland to Glasgow. All three have their reasons for the trip south, with Michael initiating the journey with his desire to be reunited with a girlfriend who has become distant since settling in Glasgow at university. Thor’s quest is to meet his mother, whom he has been estranged from since birth, while Caitlin is heading to Glasgow to play at Celtic Connections.

The film manages to tread a fine line between comedy - it is often very, very funny - and moments in which it is genuinely emotionally affecting, particularly towards the end. Moon Dogs combines the listlessness of youth, a rebellious spirit and a perpetual teenaged horniness which makes it an obvious comparison with a film like Y Tu Mamá También. There are moments of silliness along the way which threaten the film’s plausibility, particularly with various plot machinations which don’t quite add up.

The young cast pull the film through these stickier moments with fine performances which are supported by a well written script from Raymond Friel and Derek Boyle, and a certain visual flair from Welshman Philip John, in his his first feature-length outing as director. With funding from Creative Scotland, the Irish Film Board and Ffilm Cymru in Wales, Moon Dogs’ Celtic connections extend further than its lead characters, and it’s a rather welcome example of filmic collaboration among these isles.

Michael and Thor inevitably both fall for Caitlin, who is not shy in encouraging their attentions. A chain-smoking, leather-jacketed songstress, well versed in existentialist misery, Caitlin is the connecting part of this Celtic trio, allowing the step-brothers to finally find common ground and appreciate the family they have back in Shetland. Not before they’ve had a good punch up, of course.

Culminating with the Up Helly Aa, a sort-of Viking fire festival held annually in Shetland, the film leaves a feeling of warmth with the audience as the credits roll. This is a really enjoyable piece of Celtic cinema, and one which can hopefully find a good audience and provide a springboard for its young cast and crew onto bigger things.

Reviewed on: 18 Jun 2016
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Two teenage step-brothers head on a road trip across Scotland.

Director: Philip John

Writer: Derek Boyle, Raymond Friel

Starring: Jack Parry Jones, Christy O'Donnel, Tara Lee, Chris Donald, Tam Dean Burn, Tanya Franks, Geoffrey Newland, Shauna Macdonald, Jamie Sives, Kate Bracken, Claire Cage, Craig McDonald-Kelly, Dennis Lawson

Year: 2016

Runtime: 90 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK

Festivals:

EIFF 2016

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