Top positive review
12 people found this helpful
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.