After a run of Irish movies that leaned more towards mainstream Hollywood (Grabbers, The Guard, Runway), Dollhouse reins in the recent multiplex sensibilities with a more experimental approach. But if you're going to experiment, then you’ve got to give it the full gun: in a brave move Kirsten Sheridan's (Disco Pigs) latest movie is improvised.
Set over one night in a lush (presumably) Dalkey house, five teenagers from Dublin’s inner city – Kerslake, McCabe, Stanley Brennan, Johnny Ward and Shane Curry – run amok, destroying what they can, feasting on all the drugs and alcohol their bodies can consume and challenge each other's identities and their place in this world. It's only a matter of time, however, before the owners come home…
Shot without a script, Dollhouse has that ramshackle vibe you'd expect from an improvised film, but it hangs together well and is a lot tighter than expected. With a plot less of an issue than usual, it's the characters and performances that shine through. All the characters are individually drawn but the eye is drawn to Shane Curry (Kisses). There's a subtle menace to him that is juxtaposed with violent and unhinged Johnny Ward; Curry is actually more dangerous because you don't know what he’s capable of.
Kids destroyed a beautiful Georgian in The Destructors and teens broke into a rich fat cat's lavish house in The Educators, but while Kate Stanley Brennan remarks that they 'don't belong here' and Shane Curry insists Jack Reynor remove his shoes before entering, Dollhouse is less concerned with the social divide or political grandstanding. There's no Breakfast Club sit down to discuss feelings either. It's a film that exists in the moment and while some moments might be extended drunken dance videos (music provided by Howie B), there's an edgy unpredictability to it all that's quite intriguing.
The improv gets untidy towards the close with an ill-advised tangent that's hard to swallow and that, for spoiler reasons, can't be discussed but this is quite unlike teen movies. Some days we want to hear Love Me Do, other days it's Blue Jay Way: only see Dollhouse if you're in the mood for something different.
Review by Gavin Burke | 13:56 | Tuesday 20th November 2012 | Movie Review
looks brill!!Posted 16:50 | Tue 11th Dec 2012
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