Last Thursday I got a chance to see Lenny Abrahamson and Mark O'Halloran's new film Garage. [Thank you Margaret!] Based on what I have already said about Adam and Paul and Prosperity, I suppose it is going to be pretty obvious that I am an admirer of the work this collaboration has been producing. With Garage I think we move into something rather more serious, not just in terms of subject-matter, but also in terms of art. There is a beautiful pace to the film, a rigorous slowness of the surrounding landscape that is part of the characters and their lives.
The story is simple. Josie works in a garage, looking after the few passing customers and waiting for business to pick up. He is treated like the village idiot, though often it is clear he is perfectly self-conscious. When his boss suggests that he work longer hours, he sends the son of his new girlfriend to work with Josie. The two strike up a friendship and Josie and the young man sit talking about nothing in particular, drinking cans and looking out at the closing evening. The rest of the film is tragic and heartbreaking, moving inexorably to a terrible end; I can't reveal more of the story without spoiling it.
There is a great great delicacy to the performances, and Pat Short is simply astonishing. His Josie is wonderfully played, physically vivid, and emotionally charged. It will be impossible to consider him 'just' a comic actor from now on. The filming is wonderful, mixing lush green countryside with harsh fluorescent internal lights. The desolation of the small town almost becomes a part of you at the end of the film. And its silence overcomes you. It is too desperate for expression, for tears.
It would be condescending to those involved to praise this film as a great new Irish film. This is a great and beautiful film. It was an enriching experience to see it.