Gabriel (Murphy) is a drummer for a Dublin band that plays driving punk rock. Unable to come to terms with his mother's suicide and suffering from a bi-polar disorder and delusional episodes, the noise in Gabriel's head gives his drumming a certain edginess. However, after another arson incident Gabriel is forced by his doctor and sister to take medication, which numbs his natural frantic ability with the sticks, and his position in the band becomes tenuous just as they garner attention a bit of attention. He does however through therapeutic sessions strike up a friendship with teenager and budding goalkeeper Christopher (McCarthy), who suffers from Asperger's Syndrome…
Catalyst Project (an IFB programme that backs first-time filmmakers on a small budget) that scooped the Best Irish First Feature at this year's Galway Film Fleadh, writer-director Nick Kelly's debut is a busy affair. A bromance at heart, this is a charming and heart-warming story fronted by two charismatic leads, but as strong as Dermot Murphy is it’s newcomer Jacob McCarthy that catches the eye. Never looking anyone in the eye, McCarthy matter-of-fact tone is always delivered to the middle distance. Peter Coonan is relegated to a small part as the band's bassist while frontman Charlie Kelly (Smalltown) has fun as the treacherous lead guitarist.
ut it's not all sweetness and pie. There's a darkness lurking behind Murphy's (Raw) eyes, an unpredictability that can turn malevolent when he succumbs to his drinking and drug addiction. Christopher meanwhile has his own problems: he desperately wants to move back in with mum (Ally ní Chiarain) but his stepfather has designs on shipping Christopher over to another establishment once Christopher's stay at his current care residence comes to a close. Adding tension to the relationship is that Gabriel is aware of this and doesn't know how to break it to his new friend.
he travails of living with mental illness and the problematic nature of medication prescribed ("I don't feel better. I just feel… more.") are explored without hammering its point home and, like Terry McMahon's Patrick's Day, has something to say about sex and mental illness. Kelly (a former frontman for The Fat Lady Sings and whose short Shoe was shortlisted for an Oscar) comes up with some standout moments, like when Gabriel and Christopher sit down and talk about how their respective illnesses and syndromes affect them.
hile Kelly can signpost imminent developments a little too readily, adhering too strictly to screenwriting beats on occasion when perhaps something wilder and looser may have served his character’s journeys better, the climax is anything but predictable.