- 29 Jun 18
This tale of drugs, love and family in Dublin City is a hilarious and heartbreaking triumph.
“Make sure that when you tell your story, you lived it like it was a novella version of a War And Peace-style work of Dublin fiction. Epic in small ways. Live it up now, because these be the days.”
So croons Jason (Emmet Kirwan), who swaggers around Dublin like he’s young and carefree, though neither is quite true anymore. The late nights of coke and yokes have turned into a neverending quest for an unattainable high. He’s missing work, letting down his friends – but sure it’s all good craic, right?
It’s not until Jason bumps into his estranged brother Daniel (Ian Lloyd Anderson) on the streets of Dublin that he realises it might not be, anymore. Daniel is slowly recovering from a heroin addiction, and as the two brothers address their issues over a series of meetings in Dublin city, Jason is forced to confront his sense of superiority about which drugs he uses to escape reality.
Kirwan and Lloyd are both compelling performers, with Kirwan’s onscreen presence and poetic voiceover both exuding a sensitive, philosophical charm – and like most young men with a philosophical bent, Jason is also naïve and selfish. This creates an intriguing tension with Daniel, whose self-awareness regarding the pain he has inflicted on his friends and family feels more mature, even as he wanders homeless through the streets.
Anderson brings a melancholic intelligence to the role and serves as a beautiful foil to the more outrageous and comic characters in Jason’s life – and there are many. Dublin Oldschool is consistently uproarious in its portrait of young Dubliners always looking for bants and raves, and the party-loving lads are what can only be described as a gas collection of characters. The women remain underwritten, serving as love interests or pseudo caretakers, though the captivating Seana Kerslake manages to elevate her role as Jason’s ex-girlfriend.
But the women’s roles highlight a certain staleness of the material. While Kirwan and director Dave Tynan are undeniable talents, their predominantly male and overwhelmingly white image of Dublin doesn’t feel as fresh or modern as expected.
The telling, thankfully, does. Complementing Kirwan’s musing voiceover is Tynan’s accomplished directing. His vision of Dublin is authentic and raw, eschewing tourist-friendly landmarks for a local’s experience of the city. He shows real filmmaking flair, as he successfully captures the exuberance of gigs and house parties; the brain-slowing, sense-heightening experience of drugs; and the warped Lynchian nature of memory.
This may be Oldschool, but it’s a new telling – and it’s thrilling.
Dublin Oldschool is out now.