Star Rating:


Director: Damian McCann

Actors: Peter Coonan, Brid Brennan, Clare Monnelly

Release Date: Friday 28th January 2022

Genre(s): Crime, Drama, Mystery

Running time: 95 minutes

On a remote island off the west coast of Ireland, investigate journalist (Peter Coonan) is drawing close to an underworld figure while his wife (Clare Monnelly) recovers from post-natal depression. However, when she disappears as a storm approaches, local retired detective Labhaoise (Bríd Brennan) begins investigating and reveals all is not what it seems between the two...

There's a moment in 'Doineann' - which is the Irish word for 'storm' - that has Bríd Brennan's character walking through their home in quiet contemplation. The way in which she carries her character, a retired detective, would almost have you expect her say something like "Ach rud amháin eile!" before she leaves, like an Irish Columbo. In fact, watching 'Doineann', you'd almost wish it wasn't a movie but a pilot for a TV series where Bríd Brennan's character goes around remote rural communities and solves crimes.

'Doineann' works in that very broad field of whodunnit, but is more in line with Scandi-noirs like 'Bordertown', 'The Bridge', or more local exponents like 'Broadchurch' or 'The Missing'. The west coast's naturally rugged landscape, the gathering clouds of grey and dark, the remoteness, it's all fertile ground to spin up a yarn about a missing mother, underworld connections, together with some light commentary on the Irish economy and even a little bit of curtain-twitching humour thrown into the mix. Aislinn Clarke's script might turn into the twists a bit too much, giving audiences just a little too much help, but overall, it has a paperback thrill to it and there's an intriguing touch in how it deploys the English language and the Irish language throughout. Likewise, director Damian McCann has plenty to work with to create an atmosphere in the natural environment and the assembled cast.

Peter Coonan is able to play frantic and calm like the storms outside, but the star player is undoubtedly Bríd Brennan, who underplays everything with a warmth and a charm that would match Peter Falk on his best day. Again, watching 'Doineann', you'd be forgiven for thinking this was a stealth pilot for a continuing series instead of a standalone movie. A good few characters are set up, like Seán T. Ó’Meallaigh's Macdara, but never fully resolves and leaves you wondering if this was done on purpose or if it was for another chapter. There's also an odd strand about mobile masts that is set up but never seems to go anywhere, as well as the underworld that Peter Coonan's character talks about.

Still, 'Doineann' is an enjoyable if easily predictable detective thriller set in a familiar environment with a strong performance by Bríd Brennan that is practically asking for a spin-off series on TG4.