Saturday, October 27, 2007

Black Irish

Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Drama Chronicles Coming-of-Age of 16 Year-Old inside Dysfunctional Boston Family

16 year-old Cole McKay (Michael Angarano) is a kid with a lot of promise. Not only is he an academic standout at his Catholic prep school in Boston, but he’s also planning for the priesthood. Plus, he’s a pitcher on the baseball team and dreaming of playing in the state championships.
But all of the above is about to be derailed due to the deteriorating state of the dysfunctional family he’s stuck with. For his folks are Black Irish, the designation commonly applied to those of his lineage with lower-class roots generally associated with drinking, fighting and underachieving.
Cole’s siblings could easily serve as the poster children for white trash, given that his teenage sister, Kathleen (Emily VanCamp) is knocked-up and clueless, while his big brother, Terry (Tom Guiry) is a ne’er-do-well with a drug habit and a rap sheet.
And Cole’s parents aren’t much better. His sickly father, Desmond (Brendan Gleeson), is an emotionally-unavailable alcoholic stuck in a loveless marriage to his disciplinarian mother, Margaret (Melissa Leo). As the film unfolds, we find pro-life mom ranting about how “No child of mine is going to have an abortion.” This translates into Kathleen’s having to disappear to a convent before she shows so as not to bring any further dishonor upon the McCay name.
Sadistic Terry is the type of sibling who beats up his little brother in public for borrowing a pair of pants without asking. In fact, he’s not above making Cole taking them off on the spot. Talk about embarrassing the family!
Such cringe-inducing antics are par for the course during Black Irish, a drismal drama rather reminiscent of Angela’s Ashes, especially in terms of maintaining a relentlessly pessimistic and morose tone. The big difference is that this smaller story stays put in Southie compared to that grand saga which ventured across the pond to the Emerald Isle. And, more importantly, this coming-of-age tale does ultimately offer a glimmer of hope.
Cole’s ashes.

Good (2 stars)
Rated R for profanity and brief violence.
Running time: 93 minutes
Studio: Anywhere Road Entertainment

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