JDIFF Review: Out of Here (2013)

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Cast: Fionn Walton, Daniel Bergin, Kelly Byrne
Director: Donal Foreman
Country: Ireland
Genre: Drama
Official Trailer: Here


Editor’s Note: the following review is part of our coverage of the 2014 Jameson Dublin International Film Festival. For more information please visit jdiff.com or follow DublinFilmFest on Twitter

“Any idea what you’re going to be doing with yourself?” It’s the question—posed by the parents of Out of Here’s protagonist—unequivocally dreaded by Irish youth. What can you do, when raised at the height of an “economic miracle” only to arrive at adulthood just as its optimism explodes? Donal Foreman’s film captures like few others have the nascent nihilism of being a young person in Ireland, treading a course through the typical teenage—in stilted mindset, if not reality—life and finding it every bit as dark and dismal as the omnipresent cloud of the Irish sky. There’s a terrible pretence to proclaiming any film “important”, yet few other words could do justice to a film that understands its intended audience like no other.

Donal Foreman’s film captures like few others have the nascent nihilism of being a young person in Ireland, treading a course through the typical teenage—in stilted mindset, if not reality—life and finding it every bit as dark and dismal as the omnipresent cloud of the Irish sky.

out_of_here_2012_3It’s an understanding eschewed from the opening frames; the conversation that begins the film, between the newly-returned Ciaran and an old friend as they catch up at a house party, is as true-to-life as Irish cinema gets. Less the drunken debauchery reactionary radio hosts would have you believe as typical of the country’s youth than the alcohol-meted emoting that’s almost a national pastime, it’s a scene at once tender and vulgar, overarching and intimate, an apt intro to a film that feels its way through a situation that’s by no means unique. Foreman’s script grounds the drama in dialogue as deflective as it is funny, perfectly hitched to the self-deprecating wit of his characters and crucially appreciative of the fact that it’s not always meant entirely in jest.

It takes great direction to breed a sense of directionlessness; if Out of Here feels every bit as aimless as its chief character, that’s only because it’s entirely the point. He’s hemmed in at every opportunity by the fine framing of DP Piers McGrail—who brought a similarly stilted sensibility to Kelly + Victor—bathed in the bare light of a window at dusk. “He lost his job a while ago, so he just sort of potters,” he says of the father at whom he stares through a door in one of the film’s finest shots, the sleek glass as much a mirror reflecting a fearful future as it is a neat visualisation of the barrier between the two.

As he stares up at the statue of William Smith O’Brien, the nationalist politician who led the 1848 Young Irelander Revolution, Walton frees Foreman and his film of ever needing to state what’s suggested.

out_of_here_2012_4Such instances of silent inference depend on the dour demeanour of Fionn Walton, who has a way of seeming convincing to other characters despite letting us see the cracks. He was terrific too in What Richard Did, perhaps the only film with which Out of Here might seem of a piece. Both, in their atmospheric evocation of a deeper darkness, demand a great deal from their leading men; both, gladly, get it in return. As he stares up at the statue of William Smith O’Brien, the nationalist politician who led the 1848 Young Irelander Revolution, Walton frees Foreman and his film of ever needing to state what’s suggested. “This fucking town, wha?” croaks an old man who sits beside him at the statue’s foot; even he can see the angst in the eyes.

It’s not far from the end when we finally learn it was an art course Ciaran abandoned before his travels, an appropriately idealistic calling to be quashed by the economic instability always hovering about the edge of Foreman’s frames. Yet Out of Here’s existence, facilitated by crowd funding and the patronage of the country’s most attuned low-budget production house, is ample evidence of art’s ability—its obligation, even—to rise above difficult circumstances and come to terms with them. It’s telling that a conceptual conversation of self-determination and strife is rendered almost inaudible on the soundtrack: if Out of Here speaks to aimless intent, it’s with enormous acuity—and, yes, importance—that it embodies action.

[notification type=”star”]74/100 ~ GOOD. If Out of Here speaks to aimless intent, it’s with enormous acuity that it embodies action.[/notification]

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About Author

Ronan Doyle is an Irish freelance film critic, whose work has appeared on Indiewire, FilmLinc, Film Ireland, FRED Film Radio, and otherwhere. He recently contributed a chapter on Arab cinema to the book Celluloid Ceiling, and is currently entangled in an all-encompassing volume on the work of Woody Allen. When not watching movies, reading about movies, writing about movies, or thinking about movies, he can be found talking about movies on Twitter. He is fuelled by tea and has heard of sleep, but finds the idea frightfully silly.