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Twice Shy

Twice Shy

Released 23 June 2017
Director Tom Ryan

Shane Murray Corcoran, Iseult Casey, Ardal O'Hanlon, Pat Shortt
Writer(s) Tom Ryan
Producer(s) Fionn Greger
Origin Ireland, United Kingdom
Running Time 80 minutes
Genre Drama, comedy, romance
Rating 16

A pregnant pause.

It’s the end of the school year in Nenagh, Co. Tipperary and final year student Andy (Shane Murray-Corcoran) is trying to summon the courage to invite Maggie (Iseult Casey) to the debs. Andy has been crazy about Maggie since he moved to Nenagh years before with his divorced father (Ardal O’Hanlon) but has hesitated to make his move. Happily, it turns out that Maggie feels the same way and after school ends, the pair move to Dublin as a couple. After two happy years, life begins to get in the way and Andy and Maggie drift apart. When an unexpected pregnancy brings the estranged couple back together, Maggie must decide whether or not to go through with a planned abortion.

Tom Ryan’s film is undeniably timely; as the Repeal movement gathers pace and a referendum finally seems to be on the cards, the issue of abortion is on top of the Irish social and political agenda. Bringing these issues to life on the screen is an extremely valuable way of contributing to the argument but Ryan’s screenplay never seems to land on one side or other of the debate; instead it opts for cliché and old-fashioned values.

Andy is very much the strong, silent type – so silent in fact that he ruins his relationship with Maggie by not talking to her about his father’s struggle with depression. He has a streak of jealousy and to be honest, seems like no craic at all. Maggie on the other hand, wears her heart on her sleeve and is partial to the odd late night (the classic hallmarks of a fallen woman). What they’re doing with each other in the first place is anyone’s guess… When Maggie decides to have an abortion she seems apprehensive but decisive (a state that is sensitively played by Casey), yet both the film and Andy only pay lip-service to respecting this decision while subtly implying that it may not be for the best. The film even goes so far as to leave us without a resolution, casting doubt upon Maggie’s ability to make the right decision for herself.

Despite the fact that Twice Shy is nicely played, it seems at odds with itself and the zeitgeist. Rather than taking a stand on one side or the other, it chooses to have its cake and eat it. There will be more interesting and radical takes on the subject over the next few years; Twice Shy is perhaps the gentle opening salvo.

- Linda O’Brien