The title has a romantic comedy resonance (`When Harry Met Sally') and, true, this is a romantic comedy, but it's different Irish, in fact. It has an edgy character that seems to say it's just that little bit more dangerous to laugh here. The opening scene is of a man in pouring rain lying face down in a Dublin gutter and a voice over saying `it all started six months ago'. Brendan (Peter McDonald), history and English schoolteacher and film buff, best described as afraid of life, meets Trudy (Fiona Montgomery), blonde, bouncing, full of life, and Brendan is swept along. Trudy, however, has a secret at first Brendan thinks she might be the Rathmines castrator, but she turns out to be a professional thief. Naturally Brendan gets involved, and the climactic caper is an attempt to steal computers from Brendan's school, which Brendan justifies on luddite grounds - the kids need to learn how to think without machines a chalk is the only technology a good teacher needs, says Brendan.
Despite the rain, this film, written by Roddy Doyle and directed by first-time director Kieron Walsh, is really a very sunny piece. As Brendan becomes more and more distracted, his elderly headmaster summons him in for a talk, only to tell him not to worry about the complaints. The spirit of rebellion infects Brendan's mother, who starts to use words you don't expect Irish mothers to use. Brendan's sister and husband (`middle class and proud of it') turn out to be a bit kinky as well.
Peter McDonald (a younger Jeremy Irons) is perfect as the po-faced Brendan, and Fiona Montgomery manages to carry off a rather unlikely character with great panache. The minor roles are filled with good performances also and the whole cast blend in beautifully. Thank goodness the producers didn't try (or couldn't afford) to cast big names.
There are all sorts of references to Hollywood classics and non-film buffs will be driven mad by their film friends digging them in the ribs with an excited `oh that's from `Sunset Boulevard', or `African Queen' ` or wherever. The film buffery is sent up too, with unexpected twists been given to some great scenes of the past (have you ever wondered for instance what happened at the end of `Singing in the Rain' after Gene Kelly throws his feet in the air?). It's all good fun on its own terms and the `what happened to whoever' sequence at the end is one of the funniest of its kind.
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