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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 9 February 2010
This is a classic tale of the quest - not for any holy grail or a volcano in which to hurl a magical ring - but the daily quest to pass the time, survive, and score another bag of heroin. Adam and Paul are two anonymous pieces of Dublin detritus - we're never sure which is Adam and which Paul ... and frankly, but for the accents, they could be in any city in Europe or the Western world.

Their age, colour, religion, politics are irrelevant, to them as much as to anyone else. Simply two ageing nobodies who have grown up together, somewhere, with other people with similar problems, some still alive, some in jail, some dead. They exist for heroin, they will do anything to get it, they are, however, too inept even to shoplift.

They wake, one morning, on some waste ground. They don't have a home, but they need to get back to home ground, to a part of Dublin they know. They need to raise some money. They need to score. There is no other plot. Just bleak comedy as their ineptitude comes to the fore. They need one another - between them they have nearly enough energy, dynamism, wit, and nous to tie a shoelace ... though probably not a pair.

They do what 'junkies' do - adopt the Rab C.Nesbitt philosophy of recognising themselves as scum, scum with no alternative lifestyle or options, and try to eke out a day at a time by begging, stealing, or borrowing. Problem, of course, is that they're no good at stealing, no one would loan them a grain of sand, and, frankly, when it comes to begging, few have charity enough even to spare these guys a second look. Junkies, after all, are scum.

There's no attempt to win sympathy, to explain why heroin has such a hold, to analyse why it helps destroy working class communities and rip their culture and cohesion apart. There's no back story to explain why Adam and Paul are where they are. Because heroin is for today. Yesterday is already forgotten and irrelevant, tomorrow is too distant and uncertain to worry about. Adam and Paul are here, today. Their quest is to get through this barrier of time and score enough heroin to take away the sweats and sickness, and maybe give them a bit of a charge at the same time.

Bleak, dismal, darkly humourless, painfully funny. You can sympathise with the characters at times without feeling sympathy for them. The great strength of the film is its lack of sentimentality, its emotional and moral simplicity and directness. Tom Murphy steals the show - hard to believe such a talented actor should die so young. But he's alive and limping in this film, an almost Chaplinesque little hobo hobbling along in tow and in awe of his taller mate, a pair of illiterate bookends looking for a shelf to sit on.

The film ends without any sense of hope, without any sense that any one day will be different from the next. The quest ends. They get through the day, chaotically, aimlessly, inexplicably. Their prize? To live long enough to have to get through tomorrow. Superb film, worth four and a half stars, and clear evidence that an absorbing, entertaining, and thought provoking film can be made without a vast amount of special effects, a cast of thousands, or big name American stars in the leading roles.
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on 4 May 2012
My personal favourite Irish film. Darkly funny and often tragic. Irish people will probably enjoy it more as they will get the humour, although there are many moments that anyone could find humour in. As it is about a day in the life of two heroin addicts, it might not be everyones cup of tea, and you would have to be broadminded for some scenes, especially one that involves a crisp bag.
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VINE VOICEon 1 November 2006
Two homeless drug addicts wake up in wasteland on the outskirts of Dublin and set about their day; essentially robbing and poncing anything they can to get themselves high. Despite the bleak plot and sometimes tragic nature of the story this is a funny and entertaining film, with Mark O'Halloran and (especially) Tom Murphy absolutely superb and believable as the hopeless Adam and Paul - possibly the best inebriated double act since Withnail and I. Recommended - but don't expect a glamorisation of their predicament though.
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on 2 January 2008
It's a shame that a film as good as this is so little known - even in Ireland.
Bord Failte(Irish Tourism Board)won't be using it any time soon but this should be compulsory viewing in our schools.
The late Tom Murphy's performance, in particular, is tremendous. Think Ratso Rizzo(Hoffman)in Midnight Cowboy - only better.
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on 9 November 2008
This film is a jet-black comedy - grim, depressing, squalid, yet very, very funny.

There are moments of absolute comic brilliance, genuinely laugh-out loud funny. And at the same time it doesn't pull any punches on what it is like to be a drug addict, the desperation and sense of pointlessness about it all.

I rented it on DVD and watched it 3 or 4 times. I lent it to my parents, both in their fifties and they loved it as well.

Find a copy and make up your own mind about it.
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on 18 December 2011
Two homeless junkies in Dublin, how fun can it be? This fun, it seems! While at the same time gripping my heart I found myself chuckle and even laugh out laud with these guys and their struggles to get through the day. There are some really unforgivable scenes in the film and some lovely quotes. First time I watched it (in the cinema) the small (funniest) guy had just passed away. These news served as a ground check and added to the reality of the film, for humour aside, the guys were no actors. Sadly.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 24 April 2010
Funny, bleak, sad, absurdist look at a day in the life two Dublin heroin addicts. More `Waiting for Godot' than `Trainspotting' (to which it's often compared). Two wonderful lead performances, and terrifically shot, with great wide angle images of our two anti-heroes - a sort of drug addled Laurel and Hardy - tramping through the urban jungle. The ending wasn't quite as powerful for me as I think it was meant to be, and a few twists felt a bit forced. But weeks after seeing it, images and moments stick in my mind. To me that's always the sign of a good film.
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on 18 January 2009
Like Lenny Abrahamson's other film "Garage" this is a grim and unsentimental portrait of society's losers, in this case two drug addicts living a squalid, debased existence, willing to do pretty much anything to secure a fix. There are plenty of funny moments, though the overall tone is bleak.
The late Tom Murphy is especially good as the naive, passive and pathetic Adam( or is it Paul? I don't think it says who's who in the movie), who commits some horrenodus acts in his quest for drugs, or money to secure same. He lives a dehumanised existence but elicits our sympathies just the same. The other lead actor, Mark O'Halloran, also wrote the screen play.
I didn't find this as affecting as "Garage", perhaps because the setting and the characters' plights are outside my experience; nevertheless a funny, truthful and deeply empathetic film.
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on 29 October 2014
A fantastic dark, funny and poignant movie. Very Irish humour so im not sure how well it travels but given the success of Love/Hate elsewhere I think perhaps it might. Sadly recognisable as it applies to all nationalities. I roared with laughter & tears at the dame time. Loved it.
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on 15 February 2009
If described superficially, this movie is nothing appealing. It's a low budget, depressing film about two junkies.
But it's one of those films which for some reason or another, perhaps just raw talent, is brilliant. The timing, the acting, the dialogue, the photography, all outstanding. And not to mention, it is just damn *funny*.
If you like oddball, seminal movies, don't miss it.
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