See our Best of Detroit 2020 winners.

Wednesday, July 1, 1998

I Went Down

Posted By on Wed, Jul 1, 1998 at 12:00 AM

I Went Down opens with a quote from Plato's Republic and ends with a sexual reference more commonly associated with the film's title. What takes place in between is a heady, raucous mixture of these two extremes: a film that's literate, lyrical and insightful, yet still fueled by very basic instincts and a playful sense of fun.

At first seeming like an Irish variation of the type of crime film that flourished in the wake of the Quentin Tarantino tsunami &emdash; lots of tough and funny guy talk punctuated by flashes of ultraviolence &emdash; I Went Down is anything but a mindless clone.

Directed by Paddy Breathnach from a wonderful first screenplay by Dublin playwright Conor McPherson, I Went Down follows the reluctant alliance of two small-time thugs: Git Hynes (Peter McDonald) and Bunny Kelly (Brendan Gleeson). Git is fresh out of prison when he intercedes on behalf of his irresponsible best friend who's being threatened by loan sharks &emdash; an act all the more charitable considering this "friend" hooked up with Git's girlfriend while he was incarcerated.

This puts the usually quiet, affable Git in hot water with the local underworld boss, Tom French (Tony Doyle). Git's penance is a supposedly routine assignment: to travel cross-country and pick up some money from French's associate, Frank Grogan (Peter Caffrey). As a driver and back-up muscle, French sends along the scary (and comic) Bunny Kelly, whose arrowhead sideburns and flashy clothes make him look like a lost teddy boy.

Nothing, of course, is as simple as it initially seems, from Bunny's capabilities to the deep, bitter connection between the stoic French and gregarious Grogan. The filmmakers, who obviously have been influenced by American gangster movies, give their story a fresh perspective by setting the action primarily in rural Ireland, where a bog takes the place of the usual dark alley.

Unmannered, straightforward performances from a terrific cast make McPherson's relentlessly clever, Irish slang-peppered script spring buoyantly to life.

"No goods, no black pudding," says Bunny Kelly espousing his basic philosophy &emdash; "I think you know what I'm talking about." Somehow, you do.

Serena Donadoni writes about film for Metro Times. E-mail her at


We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 21, 2020

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit