Directed by Darragh Byrne. Starring Colm Meaney, Colin Morgan, Milka Ahlroth, Michael McElhatton, David Wilmot. 94 mins.
In cinemas October 14
COLIN MEANEY IS SUPERB IN UNDERSTATED BUT EMOTIVE IRISH DRAMA
With a grace, humour and understanding of the human condition that echoes the work of Tom McCarthy, Irish director Darragh Byrne uses his first feature film to explore the converging lives of three individuals straddling the fringes of society. Emigrant Fred (Colm Meaney) has returned to Ireland, only to finds himself destitute. Forced to live in his car, he strikes up a friendship with a similarly situated young drug addict, Cathal (Colin Morgan.)
Never condescending to his audience, Byrne chooses to keep Parked refreshingly exposition-free, understanding that by not exploring Fred’s background, his present feels all the more isolated and affecting. It’s a painful irony that Finnish music teacher Jules (Milka Ahlroth) has become a staple of the Dublin community, while Fred remains homeless in his own hometown.
This nod towards Ireland’s growing multiculturalism is one of many socially aware moments, such as the utterly believable farce that is social welfare office politics. But Parked retains a universal appeal thanks to Meaney’s beautiful performance. Restrained yet endearing, Meaney’s Fred is an immensely likeable and layered character, whose empathy and poetic writing reveals a man eager to find meaning in the mundane, and understanding in the most unlikely of companions.
But though Colin Morgan shines as Cathal, bringing a warmth and cheekiness that highlights just how young this troubled man is, his afterschool-special “Just Say No, Kids” storyline feels melodramatic and uninspired. This habitual deference to drug culture to denote edge and importance has become ubiquitous in Irish drama, and the fresh angle needed to make Cathal’s arc exceptional and affecting is sorely missing. Michael McElhatton’s turn as an intimidating drug dealer serves to emphasize this feeling of deja-vu. Though solid as ever, the sheer familiarity of his role is so predictable that it’s detracting, nudging the film towards television drama fodder.
However with a stunning lead performance from Colin Meaney, some stunning visuals and Byrne’s assured understanding of interesting, character-driven drama, Parked is a promising debut from a director bound to go far.
See the trailer here.