(director/writer: Fintan Connolly; screenwriter: Fiona Bergin; cinematographer: Owen McPolin; editor: Nicolas De Toth; music: Forrest Gray; cast: Aiden Gillen (Val Barber), Deirdre Donnelly (Lily Dunne), Isabelle Connolly (Sara), Gary Lydon (Johnny Mulligan), Aisling Kearns (Kate Barber), Helen Behan (Monica Nolan), Camille O’Sullivan (Lexie Finnegan), Steve Wall (Eddie Quinn), Ruaidhri Conroy (Luke), Nick Dunning (Eunan Brady), Liam Carney (Tony Quinn), Irma Mali (Oxana Popov), Simone Collins (Jane Devaney), Gerard Mannix Flynn (Denis Frogatt); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Fiona Bergin; Brainstorm Media/Fubar Films; 2023-Ireland)
“It turns into a compelling character study rather than a hard-boiled detective story.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Irish filmmaker Fintan Connolly (“Flick”/”Eliot & Me”) directs this old-fashioned shamus story with a few modern-day social changes thrown in, that he co-writes with Fiona Bergin. The low-key film was shot during the Covid-19 lockdown (with many characters masked).
The veteran character actor Aidan Gillen stars as Val Barber, a former Dublin cop who got kicked off the force when outed as a queer and is now a struggling private investigator. He specializes in insurance fraud cases or in investigating cheating couples.
He’s hired by the wealthy widow Lily Dunne (Deirdre Donnelly), after the police won’t help her find her missing 20-year-old granddaughter, Sara (Isabelle Connolly).
His search for Sara is met with disdain by the sinister police inspector Tony Quinn (Liam Carney). But Barber receives some help from his former colleagues on the force and learns Sara is involved in some sort of #metoo case, whose stink reaches a top-level politician who masturbated in front of her when she was 15.
In his personal life, the bi-sexual PI makes nice with his ex-wife Monica (Helen Behan) so they can both help their brain injured teenage daughter, Kate (Aisling Kearns), deal with her permanent traumatic injury from an auto accident.
There are great location shots of Dublin and a good sympathetic performance by its main character. It turns into a compelling character study rather than a hard-boiled detective story.
REVIEWED ON 9/26/2023 GRADE: B-