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The Flag

The Flag

Released 14 October 2016
Director Declan Recks

Pat Shortt, Moe Dunford, Simone Kirby, Ruth Bradley, Peter Campion, Brian Gleeson, Craig Parkinson, Sorcha Cusack
Writer(s) Eugene O'Brien

Robert Walpole, Rebecca O'Flanagan
Origin Ireland
Running Time 84 minutes
Genre Comedy
Rating 12A

Lowering the flag.

If we were to apply a sliding scale of reverence to the productions that found their way to Irish screens in the wake of the 1916 commemorations, The Flag would be right at the bottom. A silly caper movie starring Pat Shortt, the film wears its claim of being “gas craic altogether” on its sleeve. The trouble is, the film is neither gas nor craic.

Harry (Shortt) is an Irishman in England who is making ends meet by working on building sites. Although he has a couple of fellow Irish workmates (Brian Gleeson and Peter Campion), Harry lives quite a lonely life. When he returns to Ireland to attend a funeral, he discovers a letter written by his grandfather. In it he claims that he had been tasked with raising the tricolour above the GPO during the Easter Rising. When Harry brings up the matter in the local pub, he is ridiculed. Drunkenly he vows to return to England, steal the flag from its current home in a military base and prove that his grandfather was telling the truth. Accompanied by his friend Mouse (Moe Dunford), old flame Liz (Simone Kirby) and his Irish workmates, Harry plans a heist.

In content and delivery, The Flag is well and truly stuck in the past. Lately, Irish film has hit something of a tentative stride; there have been gritty dramas like Glassland and Patrick’s Day, modern comedies like Young Offenders and feel-good fare like Sing Street. None of these films were blessed with a high budget but somehow made what little money they had shine from the screen. In comparison, The Flag looks drab, old-fashioned and clumsy. The story, based on the family history of writer Eugene O’Brien, had potential in some respects but the script is hopelessly flat. Pat Shortt does his very best to inject the proceedings with his wholesome shtick but this is lost amid a sleepwalking cast and pedestrian direction.

To many, merely getting an Irish film made is a triumph in itself but with the quality of some of the films produced on the island over the last few years, mediocrity just isn’t good enough anymore. That fact is a cause for celebration. The Flag, sadly, is not.

- Linda O’Brien