Today: July 22, 2024
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Parked

Returning to an Ireland in the grip of recession, middle-aged watchmaker Fred (Colm Meaney) is falling through the cracks. Unemployed, and homeless, drowning in petty bureaucracy, he’s unable to access the housing or unemployment benefits he needs. Depressed and reduced to living in his car, Fred slowly finds himself bonding with junkie Cathal (Colin Morgan) who’s also homeless.

Returning to an Ireland in the grip of recession, middle-aged watchmaker Fred (Colm Meaney) is falling through the cracks. Unemployed, and homeless, drowning in petty bureaucracy, he’s unable to access the housing or unemployment benefits he needs. Depressed and reduced to living in his car, Fred slowly finds himself bonding with junkie Cathal (Colin Morgan) who’s also homeless.

Estranged from his family, the motor-mouthed Cathal lives
in his car at the other side of the car park from Fred. The two men become friends and, in a
neat inversion of movie cliché, the younger Cathal takes the older Fred under
his wing, teaching him how to survive and get by on the streets as Fred comes to
take the place of Cathal’s estranged father, trying to get him off heroin and
interceding with the gangsters to whom he owes money. He also awakens Fred’s constipated humanity, teaching him
how to have fun again and encouraging the older man to pursue a relationship
with nice Scandinavian lady and obvious plot device Jules (Milka Ahiroth).

Tragedy awaits however as the increasingly desperate
Cathal’s drug abuse spirals out of control and the local dealers circle for the
kill…

Like its characters, Byrne’s Parked is going nowhere.
Unlike its two protagonists however, it’s quite content to stay
static. Essentially a May to
December bromance between Fred and Cathal, nothing much happens, certainly
nothing you haven’t seen a hundred times.
It’s a little glum, a little downbeat. It has a plinky-plonky soundtrack that makes you want to
tear your own ears off, Fred’s tentative romance with Jules feels unrealistic
(so what if he’s showering at the leisure centre, the man lives in his car!
He’s still gonna be a bit whiffy) and there are far, far, too many
heavy-handed clock metaphors in the film.
Yes, we know Fred used to make watches and fix clocks but does every
character in the film need their own clock metaphor? The film works however because of the two fantastic
performances by its leads.

Often the brash, irascible, mercurial presence in
everything from TV’s Star Trek to The Commitments to Con Air, Meaney here plays against type delivering a restrained,
almost passive performance as the lonely, isolated Fred whose slow blossoming
is the heart of the film, the only glimpse of his familiar d*ckwad roles coming
when he batters a couple of gangsters with a torch.

The real revelation though is Colin Morgan. Pale
with a mouth full of teeth like brown tombstones, he’s almost unrecognisable
from the clean-cut teen wizard of BBC1’s Merlin,
delivering an intense, committed, spontaneous performance, inhabiting Cathal’s
sallow, greasy skin, soulful eyes constantly scoping the angles.

Touching, sad and funny without being mawkishly
sentimental, Parked is a likable but ultimately forgettable walk on the mild
side.

David Watson

David Watson is a screenwriter, journalist and 'manny' who, depending on time of day and alcohol intake could be described as a likeable misanthrope or a carnaptious bampot. He loves about 96% of you but there's at least 4% he'd definitely eat in the event of a plane crash. Email: david.watson@filmjuice.com

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