Adam & Paul

Adam & Paul


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

There are films that make you dance and films that make you sing. There are also films that make you want to kill yourself. Adam & Paul is one of these. If this review peters out in a jumble of negative phrases, you know what to do - call the ambulance.

Adam and Paul are known as "the tall one" and "the short one." Names are as irrelevant as hope, love, creativity, warmth and the sound of laughter. This is Ireland, Dublin possibly, a rainy city, where violence on the estates is endemic and petty crime the closest anyone is going to get to God's mercy. Survival for the dispossessed and the vagrants requires imagination and luck. "The tall one" and "the short one" have neither.

Copy picture

They drift aimlessly from one place to another, suffering the humiliation of rejection, occasionally encountering the generosity of strangers (a fag, a can of lager). "The short one" is a whiner and "the tall one" practically mute. They have no charm, charisma or interest. They are lost souls who can barely articulate their despair. Watching them is like watching slugs in slurry.

This film has been compared to Samuel Beckett. PERLEEEASE..!! There is poetry and humour in the works of Godot's man. There is nothing of the kind here, only bleakness and more bleakness and the promise of bleakness to come. Even the cinematography is bleak, rinsed colour, a rough video quality, half blurred images, darkened by the stain of blood.

Things move on, but because you don't care, it doesn't matter. Emotions dry up like overcooked semolina and the heartbeat slows. When final credits roll and the lights come up, you feel like a hedgehog awakening from a long winter.

What to say about the performances? Naturalistic is a word that covers it. Bravery, perhaps, because no actor wants to portray null, let alone void. The director (Lenny Abrahamson) and writer (Mark O'Halloran), who happens to be "the tall one," deserve to be congratulated for not compromising and for having the courage of their convictions. It doesn't make the film any easier on the eye.

When Mike Leigh made Naked in 1993, his protagonist (David Thewlis) had a passion and an anger that howled against the filth of his existence. These stumbling derelicts do not have the energy to wipe rat's faeces off their shoes.

Reviewed on: 04 Jun 2005
Share this with others on...
Adam & Paul packshot
Rambling encounters with two Irish vagrants in a soulless urban wasteland.
Amazon link

Director: Lenny Abrahamson

Writer: Mark O'Halloran

Starring: Mark O'Halloran, Tom Murphy, Louise Lewis, Deirdre Molloy, Gerry Moore, Paul Roe, Eamonn Hunt, Gary Egan

Year: 2004

Runtime: 83 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Ireland


Reel 2006

Search database: