James Allen (Laurence O’Fuarain) is a successful, organised, thirty-something banker living alone and working in Dublin city at the tail-end of the recession. When a family tragedy occurs due to the ruthlessness of his employer, James decides to take action and make things right. Meanwhile, his mysterious co-worker Alison (Sarah Carroll) has her own agenda.
‘The Limit Of’ marks the feature debut of producer brothers Alan and Anthony Mulligan from Mayo. Alan Mulligan both wrote and directed the drama, and while it has its flaws, it’s an impressive debut. You’ll want to be looking out for their names in the future.
Financed independently, its story about the cold-hearted nature of banking in Ireland and the lengths one will go to for family will strike a chord with many. The twists and turns the story takes are strange and as a result, you’re consistently invested. Its soundtrack, with music written and performed by Mick Flannery, is stirring, and it is shot well – in 5k format – too.
The central performances of Laurence O'Fuarain (‘Black 47’, ‘Vikings’) and Sarah Carroll are both excellent. Their mysterious characters spark the viewer’s curiosity immediately while O'Fuarain captures the increasingly erratic behaviour of James Allen effectively. You don’t totally buy into his change of character when he becomes threatening towards his boss so quickly, and certain parts of the narrative can be unclear. Still the talent in the performances – and Sonya O'Donoghue as the carer, Margaret, deserves credit here too – is undeniable.
We haven’t had a truly thrilling Irish feature in a long time (‘Traders’ comes to mind as a comparable film here) and while ‘The Limit Of’ doesn’t quite hit the mark, it is an immersive movie experience because it is constantly defying expectations and taking you by surprise. The film – and its protagonist – goes from super sweet to totally messed up in moments. Its ambitions are undeniable, but in the end, it’s not quite as deep or enduring as it endeavours to be. One wonders if a greater budget would have allowed the filmmakers to explore the themes they’re concerned with in a more remarkable way.