Directed by: Simon Fitzmaurice – Starring: E, Sarah Minto, Deirdre Mullins, Declan Conlon, Ali White, Stella McCusker, Martin McCann, Cathy Belton
The story of the making of this movie could almost be a movie itself. Director Simon Fitzmaurice was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease, and given four years to live, in 2008, so he has defied the odds to still be here, never mind direct an IFTA nominated movie.
Having raised most of the film’s budget through crowd-funding, by the time he shot this his motor skills were non-existent, and he directed this using just his eyes and a computer which “speaks” for him.
No doubt at some point someone will bring this tale to the big screen, but for now we have this. Starring Harry Potter star, Evanna Lynch, in the title role, it is essentially a road movie.
The plot in a nutshell involves Emily’s father, Robert (Smiley) suffering a breakdown, meaning she is taken into foster care. Forced to move to a new school, she bonds with a shy classmate, Arden (Webster) who has troubles of his own.
When she doesn’t receive a birthday card from her father, she begins to worry something is amiss, and convinces Arden to drive her to her father’s hospital to break him out. As the pair travel across country they learn valuable lessons, while growing ever closer.
This has been receiving rave reviews, and it is indeed a lovely movie. Told in large part through Emily’s thoughts, the voiceover gives it a haunting quality – particularly when what is happening on screen juxtaposes with Lynch’s angelic tones.
Both Lynch and Webster are great as the troubled teen protagonists. They have a really good chemistry, and Smiley is completely convincing as a man who hung on to the edge for too long, before falling off the cliff and into the abyss. It looks wonderful – particularly the road scenes, and the script is whimsical yet not airy-fairy.
But…and there had to be a but…it is essentially a teen road movie, and as such there is not a lot here that we haven’t seen before. It is well done and incredibly engaging – thanks mainly to the wonderful performances – but the story itself isn’t extraordinary.
Fitzmaurice has managed to direct the actors in such a way that detracts from this, and it is only in hindsight that I realised it myself. However, for the 90-minute running time it doesn’t matter, as you will get swept up in the almost ethereal nature of the movie.
It would be wrong to heap plaudits on this simply because of Fitzmaurice’s condition – if nothing else it would be an insult to his achievement in actually getting the film made, which is a tough task for anyone.
I do feel some feedback may have been coloured by this, but whether or not that is the case, if you are looking for a heart-warming, life-affirming drama that will entertain and engage for 90 minutes, then this is the movie for you.
In Cinemas Now!