Koch on Film
BY Ed Koch
I love Irish films, and I looked forward to seeing this one. Regrettably, while worth seeing — it does have enchanting aspects — it could have been far better if the script had been more thoughtful. Nevertheless, I recommend it to you, since there are so many American films that are far worse and provide no pleasure at all.
The story depicts the adventures of two children, Dylan (Shane Curry) and Kylie (Kelly O’Neill). Dylan is eleven years old (he looks older) — and Kylie is ten (she too appears older). They are not professional actors and do a really terrific job of creating the characters of two children who live in poverty on the outskirts of Dublin and suffer daily from conditions in their own family structures. They live in houses sitting side-by-side and have only one another for comfort. Dylan’s father is a monster with an enormous temper who assaults both Dylan and his mother. Kylie’s uncle commits incest upon the child, which she knows is wrong, but can’t do anything about.
As the result of a ferocious attack upon him by his father, Dylan leaves home and runs away with Kylie. They jump on a barge, travel to the heart of Dublin and live on the streets for several days, begging for food and sleeping in cartons. They also have an incident with a man seeking to rape Kylie (who kidnaps her). Dylan rescues her.
A wonderful aspect of the film is that it has English subtitles for the very heavy Irish dialect. Regrettably, the subtitles are often illegible and disappear too quickly, depriving us of a really necessary aid.
Why do I have the caveat that it could have been far better? The script wasted too much of the flick in having the children do nothing on their sojourn, as if scenes of them running through the streets or using sneakers with roller blades, allowing them to scoot (something I’ve never seen before) would be a substitute for thoughtful interaction between the two or with others.
Their homecoming and thoughts of what the future will bring impacts heavily on the audience as the film closes. The two children, if they continue making movies, should have a great future.
Hype, hype, hype, is what we have here. It is all about dreams and the control of dreams in others to accomplish some criminal purpose. From the first frame to the last, I watched the movie unfold and thought, why did the critics give this junk their highest ratings? It does not hold a candle to the “Matrix” series, except for the special effects — which are spectacular, but never touch your emotions.
Keanu Reeves in “Matrix” is a wooden actor, compared with Leonardo DiCaprio in “Inception,” yet as I said, “Matrix” was far superior because it had a story you could follow and identify with. “Inception” has snippets of stories that intrude upon one another and are extremely difficult to follow and are never real enough to permit you to bond with any of the characters portrayed.
There are a number of good actors in the film who, regrettably, walk through it without leaving an imprint. There is Marion Cotillard who plays Mal, DiCaprio’s screen wife and Cillian Murphy (who played the lead in “Breakfast on Pluto” — one of the best movies I’ve ever seen). Here, he plays the son of a millionaire. For two brief scenes at the opening and closing of the film, Michael Caine plays DiCaprio’s academic friend — as he played butler to Christian Bale’s Batman in “The Dark Knight.” When Caine appears, you know the dreams are over.
Henry Stern said: “This is a curious movie. Visually exciting and well-acted, its unusual plot reminded me of “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” The problem is that the film was incomprehensible. The plot, involving triple layers of dreams and a funny electric box that was supposed to reach inside people’s minds, just did not make sense. The film has been skillfully promoted, and one plus is Leonardo DiCaprio — who was quite good as a talented mercenary dream inceptor on a guilt trip. This cleverly titled film features runaway snowmobiles, collapsing architecture, fires and riots. There is also a Howard Hughes character. You couldn’t keep track of the numerous people shot to death, because they were all imaginary projections anyway. As with a dream, you don’t remember much of the movie after the two hours are over.