Wide Open Spaces

Wide Open Spaces


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Watching futility bloom into low-grade despair is like eating soggy chips on a rainy night in Belfast after being robbed at gunpoint. You don’t want to be there and yet no one is going to make you feel better.

Comedy demands that pretension be pricked, pomposity ridiculed and arrogance mocked. In these Wide Open Spaces everyone is a loser. Where’s the pleasure in that? Where’s the fun? This is a sad little film that makes two thick planks look interesting.

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Austin (Ewen Bremner) and Myles (Ardal O’Hanlon) are honorary members of Slobs United’s fan club. They infest the pit of a flat, watch footie videos and booze in the afternoon with the curtains drawn. Why they are friends is beyond irony, since Austin is a bumbling eejit with the brain depth of a midge, while Myles is a depressive intellectual who is never going to get his life together, despite a fitful knowledge of foreign films.

This buddy rubbish duo find work in a disused quarry somewhere in the mud mulch of Ireland’s least picturesque wasteland, where failed entrepreneur and scam artist imperfecto Gerald (Owen Roe) is building a theme park to celebrate The Great Hunger. Everything about this concept is doomed from the start. A & M are reluctant – nay, useless – workers, while Gerald is dishonest, manipulative and fat. Other characters drift in and out, adding to the air of wayward ineptitude, the most persistent being posh totty Leonie (Morwenna Banks), who pops pills like a pharmacist’s waste bin and drinks like it’s going out of fashion. When stoned/pissed she fancies Austin, as if suddenly struck blind, or, due to a genetic weakness, incapable of rational thought.

The script is by Arthur Mathews who was one of the originators of Father Ted. What has happened to his creative fluids? Dried up in the dust bowl, caused by roaring commercial success? Why should we care about these people? Since when has stupidity been a quality worth celebrating?

Reviewed on: 20 Jun 2009
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Two young men are recruited to develop a tourist attraction celebrating the Irish potato famine.
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Director: Tom Hall

Writer: Arthur Mathews

Starring: Ardal O’Hanlon, Ewen Bremner, Owen Roe, Morwenna Banks, Don Wycherley

Year: 2009

Runtime: 85 minutes

Country: Ireland/UK


EIFF 2009

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