Projections - Movie Reviews

The Closer You Get The Closer You Get

The quaint Irish film The Closer You Get is intent on manufacturing humor by not trying to romanticize things in a tale of Irish lads who, for much of the picture, are looking for love in the wrong places.  So the chief impression of this retro-felt feature set in present times elicits a condescending, blah attitude that permeates from the generally dull main character that shows the inability of the film makers to make something entertaining with enough intelligence to pique the interest of discerning Irish patrons who will quickly recognize the Walking Ned Devine environs of Donegal and a narrative pattern emulating the surprise hit, The Full Monty.

Yet, early on, there seems to be some promise in this ethnic comedy of a bachelor Kieran (Ian Hart) and his hard up, eligible mates who aim to lure "sporty, sexy, attractive" young ladies over to find love in Eire.  A monthly film presentation of The Ten Commandments shown to the crowded church presided by Father Mallone turns out to be too racy for the women.  Thus, William Ivory's first full-length script appears to have an engaging premise.  However, after the invitation to the Miami herald is remitted after some drinking at a tavern run by the gregarious Pat (Ewan Stewart) and his dutiful wife Kate (Niamh Cusack), The Closer You Get unfolds as a cloying means to an end that is unfullfilling as the master butcher Kieran and his youthful pals push into boorish, even Cyrano behavior, as from the idea at the center motif of the little guy unable to see what's right under their noses.

Some will laugh at the oafish personality of Kieran, with his crotch clutching and imbibing throughout, along with the travails of his elder brother, Ian (Sean McGivney), and the naive Ollie (Pat Shortt), trying to educate himself through magazines on becoming a stud before the Floridians arrive.

It is evident that by keeping the lovely Yanks out of the picture for the longest time exposes many flaws that first time director Aileen Ritchie can't overcome, as her approach lacks decisiveness and the manners of Kiernan become almost absurd given the look on his frustrated, suffering employee, Siobhan, a sensitive Cathleen Bradley, who happened to give her boss the idea to seek gorgeous gals abroad.

Nevertheless, Rachel Portman's scoring, usually heartfelt to a degree, parallels the rugged, unfeeling nature of the story, and the horns quickly become repetitive. The Full Monty producer Uberto Pasolini can't make this tale of "little people" bristle with the charm that the likes of Robert Carlyle and Tom Wilkinson could.  Here the clinches are piled on to a story that appears to be waiting for something important to happen, and even at the end, it's an unexpected afterthought.  The premise is scrapped in favor of what should allow Irish eyes to smile.  But, despite Hart's over-extending to better his wayward blond butcher, and appealing work from a taciturn Shortt and a caring Cusack, The Closer You Get is too remote from giving some working-class Irish folk their due.

The Closer You Get

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