Star Rating:

Redemption of a Rogue

Director: Philip Doherty

Actors: Aaron Monaghan, Aisling O'Mara, Kieran Roche

Release Date: Friday 27th August 2021

Genre(s): Comedy, Drama

Running time: 95 minutes

Jimmy Cullen (Aaron Monaghan) returns to his rural hometown in Cavan with the intent of ending his miserable life and to bury his father, but begins to see hope for salvation when he meets Masha (Aisling O'Mara) and waits for the rain to end so he can begin the funeral...

There's been a trend of late in Irish movies that seems to fashion itself out of the miserableness of rural life. Whether it's horror-comedy like 'Boys From County Hell' or the gleeful satire of 'Dark Lies The Island', Irish cinema of late is down with the shitness, standing in stark contrast to the idyllic beauty of 'Wild Mountain Thyme'. It's not surprising, then, that 'Redemption of a Rogue' meditates on misery from the very opening scene.

Aaron Monaghan's central figure returns home to Cavan, carrying his baggage (literally) with the words 'He Is Sin' marked across them. His intent, initially, is to end his existence but can't do the deed until he buries his father who dies suddenly after seeing him after seven years. The catch? His father's will stipulates he can't be buried while it's raining, and the town is caught in a deluge that not even a Child of Prague can stop. That might seem like it's a mixture of a Tom Waits song and 'Father Ted', but 'Redemption of a Rogue' is much deeper than that.

There's a grimness to it all that is beyond absurd, yet the cinematography of Burschi Wojnar captures it all with a real beauty, while writer-director Phillip Doherty pauses the flow as his wont to allow scenes to breathe and lament their state. Monaghan's performance is spirited and committed, there's a bitingly sharp turn by Liz Fitzgibbon as the human wreckage of Monaghan's life, and even the Virgin Mary turns up for a cameo at one point and asks to bum a smoke off Monaghan's character. Reality, such as it is, and fantasy drape over one another constantly.

Tonally, 'Redemption of a Rogue' is jarring and off-kilter. The frequent flights into ridiculousness can make the movie hard to grasp, and you could almost describe it as wilfully off-putting. Yet, if you can bear the rain and the misery of it, there are faint glimmers of light and laughter in it just waiting to be found.