Middletown Review by Burke (Nov 2006)

MiddletownDirector: Brian Kirk. Starring: Mathew Macfayden, Daniel Mays, Gerard McSorley, Eva Birthistle.

Details: Ireland / 88mins (15A). After spending most of his adult life in a religious institution, Father Gabriel Hunter (Macfayden) returns to instil some values his hometown has lost since he was away. The town, in his eyes, has slipped from the readings of the Bible, and Gabriel is determined to return his people to the path of righteousness. His brother Jim's (Mays) gambling and drinking is first on the agenda before Gabriel moves onto his heavily pregnant sister-in-law, Caroline (Birthwistle), who works in the town pub. Gabriel's fire-and-brimstone speeches don't go over well with Caroline at all, and when she refuses to go to church, it creates an unbearable tension in the family. It's back to the bad old days of the '60s when the church ruled the roost in Ireland, and director Brian Kirk takes a very heavy-handed approach to this age-old material. At 88 minutes, Middletown is a little short to tell the story it wants to tell, as everything seems rushed and the events get out of hand far too quickly. Macfayden plays the puritanical priest like a caricature of Robert Mitchum's role in Night of the Hunter, and is so devoid of character, it's hard to take him seriously (maybe I'm being too hard on Macfayden because Gabriel seems like a brief sketch rather than a flesh-and-blood person).Mays fares a little better as he's got much more to do - but the best performance on view is from Birthistle, the only one to seem at home with her character.


Film Review by Gavin Burke
Reviewed on 07 November 2006