Sunday, March 27, 2011

Movie with Abe: White Irish Drinkers

White Irish Drinkers
Directed by John Gray
Released March 25, 2011

It’s 1975, and nice guy Brian Leary has aspirations of becoming an artist. Unfortunately, he’s stuck in Brooklyn with a dead-end job at a failing cinema, a troublesome brother, and an abusive drunkard father. This is the kind of movie that has been made so many times in the past and continues to be made again and again at least once every year, to the point where it seems like the script is following a playbook that spells out what obstacles the protagonists must encounter and how he is or is not able to overcome them and reach his true potential.

“White Irish Drinkers” is the type of movie that positions several well-known actors – Karen Allen (“Raiders of the Lost Ark”), Stephen Lang (“Avatar”), and Peter Riegert (“Crossing Delancey”) in the unenthusiastic supporting parts of parents and mentors, allowing the lead roles to be occupied by relative newcomers who haven’t yet anchored a film. That risky gamble is likely intended to lend authenticity to the film, and it only works somewhat effectively here. There’s such an incredible emphasis on nailing the New York accent that it seems like everything else comes second, including the quality of the performance. Their dialects may be spot-on, but this is just the latest case of young actors imitating the screen greats they’ve seen in Scorsese movies of yesteryear.

There aren’t many, or less kindly, any, surprises in “White Irish Drinkers.” After Brian (Nick Thurston) gets creative and fingerpaints a picture of his dream girl on the wall of a bar, the movie loses all sense of independence and becomes just like all its filmic predecessors chronicling the young adulthood of a New York in one of the more intriguing decades of the twentieth century. The Rolling Stones, jokes about computers that only take up one room, and plenty of other timely references are thrown in to drive home the fact that this is a movie about another era. There are moments where “White Irish Drinkers” approaches some sense of dramatic quality, but it quickly loses it by failing to think outside the box and get creative. By its end, “White Irish Drinkers” has tread and covered so much familiar ground without unearthing or bringing to light any new truths or conclusions that it just doesn’t seem worthwhile. Everything in the film feels heavily rehearsed, completely hammed, and generally uninspired, and even if it’s decently authentic, there isn’t anything to be discovered here.


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