Great Irish films

Actually, this will review only two of the many outstanding Irish movies of the last decade, two that I watched recently.

First, there’s Disco Pigs, a deeply touching tale reminiscent of classic Greek tragedies. Two babies, a boy and a girl, born almost the same minute in the same hospital, grow up next door to each other, separated only by a thin wall with a possibly imaginary hole through which they can hold hands when falling asleep at night. Both have parents/families with their own problems, and the two children form a bond so deep, so exclusive, that it sets them apart from the outside world, from other people, from what commonly is considered reality. They’re always together, make up a language of their own, call each other Pig and Runt (their real names are Darren and Sinead), and develop an almost psychic awareness for the other.

As strongly as they’re tuned into each other’s feelings, as little sensitivity do they demonstrate when it comes to other people. They are each other’s world, complete, without anything missing. Other people are like objects, easily manipulated, and irrelevant at best.

When they become teenagers, Pig in particular develops a predilection for violence which Runt goes along with and finds amusing. It’s almost as if every single shred of feeling he’s capable of is reserved for her; his love and devotion and affection for her is so absolute that there’s nothing left for others.

Shortly before their 17th birthday the innocence of their relationship shifts. Pig experiences a new kind of attraction to Runt that she’s not quite ready for. A small crack becomes noticeable in their bond allowing a twisted darkness to enter, a slight tremor at first which inexorably grows into a full-blown earthquake, relentlessly pushing them towards a tragic outcome. And yet, they’re still one in the end.

Words can’t really bring this film to life. If this is an unforgettable masterpiece, it is so first and foremost because of the stellar performances by the two lead actors, Cillian Murphy (Pig/Darren) and Elaine Cassidy (Runt/Sinead). Pig’s vulnerability and loneliness, his destructive violence, his almost desperate devotion to Runt and his boundless, painfully excessive, love for her become a multi-faceted and many-dimensional character because of Cillian Murphy’s nuanced and powerful performance. I’d count him among one of the best, easily outshining most of the current Hollywood celebrities. Elaine Cassidy beautifully complements him with her quiet radiance, giving a subtle strength and a budding independence to her character which helps build the tension and trajectory of the storyline. Add to this an exceptional director — Kirsten Sheridan’s feature debut –, stunning cinematography, and a fantastic soundtrack, and one gets a truly memorable, albeit haunting, experience.

The next review (Breakfast on Pluto) will have to wait a few days…

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