Friday, January 18, 2008


The film club in the Classic Cinema Listowel kicked off on January 10th with the Irish Language film, Kings, based on the Jimmy Murphy play, The Kings of the Kilburn High Road. The film centres around five men from Connemara coming together for the wake of one of their close friends, Jackie, a member of the original gang of six that emigrated to London 30 years previously.
Joe (Colm Meaney) is the most successful of the men, although he nurses a coke habit and has guilt on his conscience over Jackie's death. Jap and Git are down and out alcoholics, while the other two cohorts have done reasonably well, although one is fighting a constant battle with the bottle.
Transferring what is a fairly intense play on to screen isn't the easiest of tasks, although Tom Collins does quite well, particularly in the first half of the film, combining the sweeping streetscape of London, its dingy pubs, and a particular focus on the withered faces of the protagonists (Jackie's father, who didn't feature in the play, is a fantastic example of this).
The film falls slightly during the wake scene in the pub. I remember seeing the play in the Glórach back in '06, and there was an almost claustrophobic tension around the stage as Joe and Jap confronted each other bitterly, and the true cause of Jackie's death in the tube station was revealed by Git. Hard to convey on screen, and while Collins uses flashbacks of Jackie effectively throughout this scene and the film as a whole, it is an ultimately depressing scene, robbed of some of the humour the play had, as the men drink a gargantuan amount of liquour, including home brewed poitín from 'back home'.
Nevertheless, an important film, and an important reminder to us all not to forget the Irish immigrants who left for England in the 1950s, 60s and beyond, and literally built two countries. The film is a microcosm of that group; some who were very successful, others who fell in the middle, and those who fell into destitution.
Great crowd at the film, the majority of an older generation if I can use that term. It would have been nice to see some more of the Celtic Tiger era kids in the audience, no harm to have a healthy dose of reality now and again and witness the sacrifice that previous generations made for the nation they live in today.