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Released 17 April 2015
Director Gerard Barrett

Will Poulter, Toni Collette, Jack Reynor, Michael Smiley, Darine Ní Dhonnchadha, Gary Ó Nualláin,
Writer(s) Gerard Barrett
Producer(s) Juliette Bonass, Ed Guiney
Origin Ireland
Running Time 93 minutes
Genre Drama
Rating 15A

Living in a bottle.

Given the fact that the Irish are renowned for their skill at storytelling, it’s always been a mystery to me that so much of Irish filmmaking is hopelessly cloth-eared when it comes to the rhythm and rhyme of the everyday Irish voice. Time and time again I have watched films that have a great deal of potential killed stone dead by cack-handed dialogue. Every now and again though, there is a film that hits the nail on the head, capturing something about Irish life that shines with authenticity. Glassland, written and directed by Gerard Barrett, is one such film.

Jack Reynor plays John, a young taxi driver living in a ramshackle Dublin suburb. He scrapes a living driving at night to support himself and his alcoholic mother Jean (an almost unrecognisable Toni Collette). One morning, John finds his mother passed out and unresponsive. A trip to the hospital confirms that if Jean continues down the same path she will die from liver failure. Tired of living under the shadow of his mother’s addiction, John makes a last ditch effort to save her from herself.

Glassland is a film that packs a huge emotional punch but is very understated in its delivery. The dialogue is often minimal, a fact that emphasises the isolation that John feels. He is, above all, a good man and this goodness means he is trapped in a house with a woman who is, to all intents and purposes, no longer his mother. Reynor and Collette are both excellent in developing this dysfunctional relationship. Collette veers from screaming rage to pathetic sadness as Jean, a character who can be pitied but also reviled. Reynor, as the taciturn John, again shows himself to be an extremely promising actor. His performance is a quiet one punctuated by bursts of intensity - a believable  and affecting portrayal of a young man whose dedication to his mother is slowly tearing him apart. The scene in which he says goodbye to his best friend Shane (Will Poulter) who is emigrating to Australia is especially memorable - without saying a word Reynor conveys heartbreak and frustration.

Barrett is a director who knows that less is more, capturing an intimate portrait of a family in crisis by bringing the audience right into their presence. It is a style echoed in the script, which always feels restrained and authentic. Glassland is a memorable, beautifully pitched drama that delivers on the promise of those legendary Irish storytellers.

- Linda O’Brien