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Patrick's Day

Patrick's Day

Released 6 February 2015
Director Terry McMahon

Moe Dunford, Kerry Fox, Philip Jackson, Catherine Walker, Aaron Monaghan, Conor Mullen, David Herlihy, Tommy O'Neill
Writer(s) Terry McMahon
Producer(s) Tim Palmer
Origin Ireland
Running Time 102 minutes
Genre Drama, romance
Rating 15A

Crazy stupid love.

Writer director Terry McMahon (he of the horrendously received Charlie Casanova), has made a deeply unglamorous film about mental illness and for this, he should be commended. Far too often mental illness on screen is portrayed as a quirky personality trait, something that is enjoyed rather than endured. This could never be said about Patrick’s Day, a film that takes an unflinching look at the pain that comes from living with, or in the shadow of mental illness. Unfortunately this noble cause does not make for a satisfying piece of cinema.

Childlike schizophrenic Patrick Fitzgerald (Moe Dunford) was born on Patrick’s Day and every year his mother Maura (Kerry Fox) takes him out on the town in Dublin. They see the sights of the parade before dinner and a night’s stay at a swanky hotel. On this particular year, mother and son become separated during the festivities and while Maura heads to the police station to report him missing, Patrick meets and falls in love with Karen (Catherine Walker), a suicidal air hostess. As Patrick pursues a relationship with Karen, Maura becomes increasingly concerned for the welfare of her son.

As I’ve mentioned, the concept behind this film is admirable but the execution leaves much to be desired. The seriousness of McMahon’s intent bleeds into the script as characters make speeches at one another rather than interacting in a believable way. Fox, Walker and Phillip Jackson (as the police officer helping Maura to track down her son) struggle under the weight of this clumsy dialogue and in the process begin to chew the scenery in a way that is uncomfortable to watch. Only Dunford emerges unscathed - thanks perhaps to the fact that his performance is largely physical rather than verbal. He is an interesting presence as Patrick, capturing his imposing masculinity and his tender vulnerability in the face of love.

I’m sorry I  can’t be more positive about Patrick’s Day. In terms of Irish cinema, it is handsomely shot and the actors are clearly trying their best. Unfortunately, McMahon’s script is pretty terrible and the interactions between characters fall flat under the weight of its sermonising.

- Linda O’Brien