Directed by: Konrad Begg – Starring: Sean Maguire, Lorna Anderson, Barry Ward, Ross McMahon, Ford Kiernan, Kevin Ryan, Patrick Bergin
Sean Maguire has had a rather strange career trajectory. He went from being a cute kid in Grange Hill, to a teen heart throb in EastEnders, to a pretty boy pop star to a buff movie star in Meet The Spartans! Basically there is a Sean Maguire for every taste. In this movie he is rocking the rugged so-laid-back-he’s falling over-serious musician look. Set predominantly in Galway, this romantic drama sees the English actor revisit both the Irish accent that he used during his stint on EastEnders playing troubled teen Aiden, and the vocal talents that landed him that short lived post soap pop career.
He plays Sean, a musician who lost the love of his life, Amy (Anderson) after an unfortunate night’s partying with Alabama 3 the night before his wedding. With her now enjoying a new life in New York where she is dating pop singer JJ Fitzgerald (Ryan) he spends his days in the Salthill Studios recording a series of songs that he has written for her, in the hope that if she hears them he will win her back. Unfortunately for Sean, her relationship with JJ is rapidly hotting up, and the next time he encounters her is when she has returned to Ireland for her lavish wedding to the pop star, forcing him to give up his hopes of reconciliation once and for all. That is unless Sean’s friends can get some dirt on JJ, and have Amy listen to the album he made for her.
This is shamelessly sentimental from the off, with plenty of dreamy flashback sequences used to reinforce how much he really loved Amy. These are made bearable by the stunning Galway scenery, but they do become a bit wearing. Pretty much everything about this plot is completely contrived, from the random appearance of Alabama 3 (featuring Nick Reynolds, son of Great Train Robber Bruce) to the death of Sean’s previously unmentioned sister, who leaves him a country house, and there is constant telegraphing. There are some extremely funny moments – the party scene with Alabama 3 being one standout (although the camera lingers slightly too long on a close up of a crotch bouncing away as a guy dances!) – and some deeply emotional scenes. However, these are overshadowed by a twee script and a cast of caricatures.
Copper star Ryan in particular as pop star JJ gives a dreadfully clichéd performance, and displays no acting prowess whatsoever. Yes he is a good looking guy, but even flashing his bum doesn’t detract from his weak performance. Equally the members of Sean’s band are all designed around musical stereotypes – however in this case some strong performances injected with a wry knowingness makes this bearable. Maguire is suitably tortured throughout, but that is pretty much all he, is and you only root for him to win Amy back because JJ is so ridiculous. Anderson as Amy simpers her way through the movie, and while she looks stunning she has very little depth. I also found the casting rather confusing. Ryan is an Irish actor and yet they have him playing an American, while Maguire is English and although he has acting chops and musical skills, there is no reason that the role of Sean couldn’t have been filled by an equally talented Irish actor.
This is nice and pleasant with some wonderful music, but the characters are underdeveloped, and there are far more coincidences in the storyline than can be considered artistic licence. In trying to create multiple layers to Sean’s world, all scriptwriters did was muddy and overcomplicate the story. There were several moments where I found myself sitting there stunned at the contrivances employed.
Despite all of this I found this enjoyable enough. For all it’s failings it has a lot of heart, and if you strip away all the ridiculous plot twists the underlying story is a sweet, simple tale of love, loss and everything in between. It is inoffensive and has some lovely moments. However it won’t linger with you or leave you pondering what happens to the characters after the credits roll, which is how romantic drama should move you.
In IMC cinema 1st May