Features Live Action Movies


Director – Peter Mackie Burns – 2019 – UK, Ireland – Cert. 15 – 89m


A man who has recently lost his father faces uncertainty about his future – in cinemas from Friday, October 2nd

Colm (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor), 48, works in middle management at a port in Dublin. Various aspects of his life are in crisis. He meets a young man (Tom Glynn-Carney) in a shopping mall public lavatory and a relationship of sorts ensues. A corporate takeover at work means Colm may lose his job which he’s had since he was a teenager. At home in the suburb of Rialto, he talks to his grown up daughter Kelly (Sophie Jo Wasson) but not so much to his wife Claire (Monica Dolan) while he and his grown up son Shane (Scott Graham) don’t get on at all. All of which is underscored by Colm’s recent loss of his dad, with whom he had a pretty lousy relationship.

This is a film which constantly surprises in the sense that, if you were to guess the synopsis based on the first ten, or 20, or 30 minutes, you’d guess wrong. It’s not directly about a rent boy, or redundancy, or relationship breakup, or alcohol dependency, although it covers all those elements in some detail. Once Colm talks on the the phone about sorting the bin bags and later goes round to help his mum put some of his late dad’s clothes into those bin bags, it becomes apparent that this is a story about bereavement. But that’s not immediately obvious from the get go. 

Colm talks in pretty unpleasant terms about his late father when he does talk about him, which isn’t that often. Because he has more immediate issues to worry about. Like the uncertainty about the keeping his job. Or the fact that Jay the young man he’s met has his phone, name and address and is blackmailing him. 

He chats with colleagues at work about the situation, including his colleague Noel (Michael Smiley) who’s future is uncertain as his is and his immediate boss Paula (Eileen Walsh) who has been negotiating vociferously on his behalf. He doesn’t say much to his wife, who comes on to him and tries to comfort him, to either of which approaches he responds. 

But he says a great deal to Jay, who finally admonishes him that their relationship “isn’t real – it’s about money” even though they move from their initial, transactional’ physical relationship to one were both has discovered where the other lives. Jay, it turns out, has a girlfriend who hates him and a baby girl on whom Jay dotes but is hardly ever allowed to see. 

While Colm is the main character around whom the multiple narrative strands are constructed, we learn more about other characters as the film progresses. Mostly about Jay, but this is a film which constantly throws new information and surprises at the audience. For example, there’s a mysterious woman friend Kathleen (Ger Ryan) of Colm’s father who suddenly appears in the narrative when he visits her to inform her the family will be attending Mass and he thought she’d like to know. Yes, there’s a Catholic element to all this too. And there are fascinating glimpses of Colm’s mother, trying to make sense of life without her husband.

So although it’s a character study and to some extent a two-hander, with much screen time revolving around Colm and Jay, this is equally a group piece turning up one interesting bit character after another. Fundamentally, though, it’s a study of grief and bereavement with a central character unable to deal with that and trying to work through it in all manner of strange and bizarre ways. It exhibits great compassion in dealing with characters completely out of their emotional depth navigating treacherous life situations.

Rialto is out in cinemas in the UK on Friday, October 2nd.


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