DUBLIN OLD School is the surely going to be the Irish film of the year. Viral YouTube star - although he probably cringes at the title - Emmet Kirwin, along with co-writer and director David Tynan, has adapted his award winning play for the screen.
Kirwin plays Jason, early 30s session hound who likes drugs, music, and partying. He is getting older and his dependencies are growing. His regular house party has been raided by the drug squad and his friends are emigrating. When he meets his estranged junkie brother at the beginning of a Bank Holiday weekend, he begins to contemplate his life and situation.
Adapting from the stage is always tricky. It feels like you are working in a similar medium and, as is the case here, often the same actors who were on stage are playing the same characters on screen. Rarely is it a success. On stage there is an agreement with the audience, you are more aware you are watching a performance, eg, when Kirwin dives into a beautifully written piece of monologue, it is in a manner in which no one would talk in real life. On stage that feels fine, on film it can feel a little ridiculous.
The key word when discussing Kirwin's work is sincerity. Whether it is his viral YouTube spoken word pieces, Late Late Show appearances, or this film, he has an energetic sincerity which can drive some people cracked, but it does work for me. He is charismatic enough to carry the film and he really impresses in the scenes with his on-screen brother Danny, played by the equally strong Ian Lloyd Anderson.
The problem here is this glue around the five or six tent pole scenes straight from the play. There is such a difference in quality of the confrontational scenes between Jason and Danny, and then the pub or house party scenes with Jason and his friends, as the supporting cast, bar one or two, are a let down.
Yet I walked away from this film excited - excited about what Tynan and Kirwin will do in the future. They have immense talent and will do great things. Kirwin in particular has an exciting range that I would love to see another playwright have. I hope they continue to work and make films in Ireland but I think they will really make a splash internationally in the next year or two.