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Festivale Spring 1997

I Went Down

Those funny little islands off the western coast of Europe are starting to do some interesting movies these days. You have The Full Monty, Career Girls, Trainspotting, Princess Diana's funeral… and I Went Down.

The film starts with a quote from Plato's Republic about going down to some river and doing stuff - hence the title. Git Hynes (McDonald) has just got out of gaol. His girlfriend Sabrina (Antoine Byrne) has left him for his best mate Anto (David Wilmot). At Sabrina's request, Git goes off to tell Anto that it's cool about him and Sabrina. He finds him in the back room of a pub about to have his hand smashed by a couple of Tom French's (Tony Doyle) kneecappers, including Bunny Kelly (Brendan Gleeson).

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Git crosses French and suddenly becomes involved in a job to pick up a criminal associate of his, a charming but slimy character called Frank Grogan (Peter Caffrey) in association with the hard, inarticulate and unpredictable Bunny. Git's a thinker. He wants to know what the plan is. Bunny decides to "Go there and just see what happens". Bunny's hard. He once dumped his own grandfather into a rubbish bin and nobody was game to help the old bloke out for an hour and a half.

The scene changes through seedy nightclubs, cheap hotels, an Irish bog and finally, a forest where old betrayals and enmities come to a head. Through the trip, Git and Bunny become friends and as events show, neither is as simple and uncomplicated as he seems. Both have women problems and have screwed up because of their needs and loyalties.

The film is darkly funny, with a fine Irish sense of absurdity. The characters are drawn and played exceptionally well. Unlike ninety nine percent of American movies, you can believe these people are what they're paid to seem. (Harrison Ford as a terrorist fighting US President? Get real.) The film also has that most underrated of filmic virtues. Unpredictability within a logical framework.

It isn't a perfect film but it is an extremely satisfying one. Conor McPherson's script treats the work first as a character piece and second as a crime movie. That's the way to do it. It's the way the best of them do.

buyreel.jpg - 5045 BytesSend your comments or review Terry Frost
Nov 12, 1997
See also: Ali's review

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Just the facts:

Title: I Went Down (1997)
Written by: Conor McPherson
Directed by: Paddy Breathnach
Produced by: Mark Shivas (exec); David Collins (exec); Rod Stonemas (exec); Robert Walpole
Edited by: Cian de Buitlear
Director of Photography:
running time: 107 minutes.

The Players: Starring Brendan Gleeson, Peter McDonald and Tony Doyle
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