RTE.ie Entertainment Middletown Review : "Terminator with a Collar" ( Nov 2006)

Eva Birthistle
An unusual film
2 November 2006
Middletown 2 star 15A

Director: Brian Kirk
Starring: Matthew Macfadyen, Daniel Mays, Eva Birthistle and Gerard McSorley.
Duration: 89 minutes

The idea of an Irish western sounds a bit odd but think about it a little and there have been a number of films which have used elements of the horse opera - 'I Went Down', 'Into the West' and 'Mickybo and Me', to name three. 'Middletown', too, can join that list, and is by far the most unusual of the lot.

Returning home from the missions to the one-horse Middletown, Preacher Gabriel (Macfadyen) isn't looking at his new posting as an easy life and a chance to reconnect with his ailing father Bill (McSorley) and hustler brother Jim (Mays). Instead, he thinks the locals and his family have all travelled some distance down the path of the damned and need to be saved from themselves and each other.

The welcome home meal is barely over before Gabriel launches into his crusade - terrorising his flock for having a drink on Sunday, amplifying the fear of death and need to make amends in his own father, driving an even greater wedge between himself and Jim and deciding that Jim's pregnant barmaid wife Caroline (Birthistle) is the greatest sinner of them all. It's only a matter of time before someone gets hurt.

Award-winning director McKirk and playwright Daragh McCarville do many things right here, in particular capturing the suffocating nature of small town life on the island of Ireland in the 1950/60s - seen here from a non-Catholic perspective. The acting is strong and the film's look is superb, but 'Middletown' is a film which would have had greater impact if it didn't try to be so powerful all the time.

The biggest problem with the film is the character of Gabriel. As both villain and victim of the story he needed to be made human; instead he often comes across as The Terminator with a collar. Macfadyen is chilling in the role but he should have been given more to work with because with a few chinks in the armour Gabriel would have been more compelling. We also never learn why Gabriel is so unhinged and while some would argue as to whether that's really necessary, for others it further strengthens the belief of a complex character reduced towards the one dimensional.

Kirk and McCarville also needed to rethink the film's closing stages. Here subtlety and things left unsaid would have worked best but instead the duo opt for a big ending and the thriller conventions they employ are far from convincing. In their bid to ramp up the tension, 'Middletown' becomes less not more interesting and the final standoff feels like it belongs in a different film - one with less going for it than this one.

A thought-provoking work, but far from the must see it had the potential to be.

Harry Guerin

Variety: First Look Death at a Funeral

First Looks

From: Variety | Date: October 30, 2006


A mix of pics showing footage or unspooling in their entirety for the first time during the 2006 American Film Market:

DEATH AT A FUNERAL: Comedy, about a dysfunctional British family gathered to mourn the passing of their patriarch, toplines Matthew Macfadyen, Peter Dinklage, Ewen Bremner and Rupert Graves.

Pic shot in and around London this summer under the helm of Frank Oz ("Dirty Rotten Scoundrels"). Bows Stateside through MGM. A three-minute promo reel will be shown. (Sales: Kimmel Intl.)

Belfast Telegraph Another Middletown Review (Nov 2006)

No better than fair to Middling
Middletown tries hard but, as Noel McAdam finds out, is as downbeat and dreary as the grey steeples of Ulster

New clip of Middletown and a video review! (2006)

Mrs Q posted the following in the Pemberworth forum:


Follow this link, it's a 8mn21 segment from The View, a show of Rté Television on Middletown: including a clip from the movie (yeepee!) and very good reviews of Ted Sheehyn and Brenda Power, in particular. I quote

"Gabriel turns into such a fruitcake"

"Gabriel has problems with sexual repression"

"The best Irish movie of all time"

"Not to be seen on a Monday morning"

"It's not for the emotionally fragile, it is quite depressing"
"Not to be seen when you're feeling at all down"



If possible, I'll get the clip up to the gallery. Thank you so much, Mrs Q for the quotes and this amazing find!

Middletown Press Release From Eclipse



November 2, 2006

Irish film MIDDLETOWN directed by BAFTA-nominated Brian Kirk and written by new talent Daragh Carville, will be released in Irish cinemas this weekend by Eclipse Pictures. Starring Matthew Macfadyen (Pride & Prejudice), Daniel Mays (Vera Drake) and Eva Birthistle (Ae Fond Kiss) in the lead roles, this atmospheric and explosive drama tells the tale of one cleric’s chilling determination to rid a rural town of its corruption and sin.

MIDDLETOWN premiered at the Tribecca Film Festival where it was very well received by critics and co-stars an impressive ensemble of Ireland’s acting talent including Gerard McSorley, Mick Lally, David Wilmot, Frankie McCafferty, Bronagh Gallagher and Marie Jones.

The film was produced by Michael Casey in Green Park Films with funding from the Irish Film Board and the NIFTC, with international sales being handled by The Film Sales Company.

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