Young Shane, a 20-year-old Irish lad with the cherubic face of an easy mark, arrives in the big city of Limerick, away from home for the first time. Having secured a civil service job and a shared apartment, he’s ready to settle down into what promises to be an uneventful life — but events conspire against him.
First, there’s his gay roommate, Vincent, a fashion design student who’s determined to give Shane a makeover and introduce him to Limerick’s glittering nightlife (which resembles the glittering nightlife of any fair-sized city). Then, there’s the utter tediousness of his dead-end job, literally personified by an older employee who has the bad grace to kick the bucket during his retirement party. And finally, there’s his drug-dealing neighbor, Keith, who wants Shane to go to Dublin for him to pick up a package, a one-day job for which he’ll pay 1,000 euros. Depressed by the fate of the poor geezer he worked with and spurred by a desire to chuck the civil service gig and go to art school, Shane takes Keith up on his offer.
Writer/director David Gleeson seems determined to keep things relatively light in this coming-of-age tale; despite the drug dealing and Shane’s wild and crazy night in Dublin, the film has an emotionally scrubbed feeling, as though all the darker insinuations of the story have been removed to make it go down easier. That a story involving gay nightlife and hard drug dealing can be presented in the off-handed manner of a mildly ambitious after-school special could probably be seen as a triumph of humanism over hysteria, but there’s no getting around the fact that the ho-hum factor here is pretty high.
It’s not that the film necessarily needed to be grittier, just a little smarter. The plot is contrived, the dialogue is often inane and the characters are likable in a way that signifies early on that nothing seriously bad will happen to them. Michael Legge as Shane gives a good performance as a fish out of water — slightly dazed and confused — but any attempt at depth is sunk in this craven crowd pleaser.
Showing at the Main Art Theatre (118 N. Main St., Royal Oak). Call 248-263-2111.
Richard C. Walls writes about film for Metro Times. E-mail [email protected].