Ireland is known for producing literary greats at a rate wildly disproportionate to its size. The last few years have seen a similar output in small, affable indie movies. My Brothers debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival this week and, like Once and The Eclipse, is a simple movie that will charm most viewers, not to mention the Irish tourism board.-
Noel (newcomer Timmy Creed) is the oldest of three brothers whose father is on his deathbed. Noel takes one of his dad's more inexplicably charmed possessions, a cheap watch won in a seaside arcade, and accidentally breaks it. Along with his younger brothers Paudie (Paul Courtney) and Scwally (TJ Griffin), he goes on a road trip to score a replacement before his dad takes his last breath.
It's possible for small-scale movies to be a little bit too modest, and My Brothers feels that way initially. The setup is a bit hackneyed, with the brothers commandeering a ramshackle truck with a jammed door and flat tire (think Little Miss Sunshine) but bonding and learning valuable life lessons through the hijinx that ensue during their trip (shades of Darjeeling Limited).
But the actors, all of them first-timers, are undeniably charming and assured in their roles. William Collins' debut script, despite falling back on ever-dependable fart jokes one time too many, picks up toward the middle of the movie as Paudie reads Noel's journal and is too young to grasp that the 17-year old's disappointments with his dad and family and general fear of settling for a mediocre life are universal once childhood is behind you.
Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody adds a beautiful soundtrack. And if movies keep exposing viewers to County Cork, where the movie was shot, in all its pastoral glory, Ireland might experience a big enough growth in visitors to offset its post-Celtic Tiger economic woes.
Collins and director Paul Fraser joked that County Cork is "the new Hollywood." But the stunning natural backdrop and the winning, if slight, films that keep coming out of it imply that the comparison should be taken seriously.
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