‘Doineann’: Belfast Review | Comments

Director: Damian McCann. Ireland / United Kingdom. 2021. 95 min.

The mystery of the Irish language Doineann has a shaky start as director Damian McCann and screenwriter Aislinn Clarke seem determined to tick off a nursery sheet of genre snaps. There’s an isolated island, a vulnerable woman, a dastardly plan, and even a storm brewing to help stoke the tension. McCann’s debut feature improves, thanks to a pleasantly twisted plot and a solid performance from Brid Brennan as a retired police officer with all the moxie of Jane Marple and Columbo combined. The result is even more likely to appeal to those who prefer to watch on a home screen rather than undertake a visit to the cinema.

Doineann will likely be enjoyed by those who like to devour a puzzle that turns the pages by Ann Cleeves or Paula Hawkins

The early stages of Doineann are full of exposure and guaranteed alarm dialogue to get you noticed and put it away for future reference. We quickly learn that there is no mobile reception on the island, that the austere and enigmatic local man Macdara (an underutilized Sean T. O’Meallaigh) is considered the strangest of all eccentrics. of a small island community, and that red weather warnings have been issued. The fact that investigative television reporter Tomas (Peter Coonan) continues to express such deep concern over his easily confused poor wife Siobhan (Clare Monnelly) instantly suggests that some kind of gas light is in progress. It remains to be seen whether protective or sinister.

Siobhan is said to be suffering from postpartum depression. Tomas is about to expose the actions of a notorious underworld figure. The couple and their baby Oisin have left Dublin for an island refuge on the northwest coast of Ireland. The austere and low clouds, the steep hills and the gray and muddy shores make it an atmospheric place that offers them peace and seclusion. A prominent wooden vacation home with floor-to-ceiling windows, their hideaway is not exactly low-key but looks lovely. It also provides the perfect opportunity for the shining eyes of others to observe from afar what may be going on behind closed doors.

A phone call sends Tomas rushing to the mainland for an urgent meeting. Upon his return, Siobhan and Oisin are missing. Help is requested, a search team arranged, and retired police officer Labhaoise (Brennan) offers all the sympathy and assistance she can. It wasn’t until then that the film began to reveal a big picture of what happened.

Doineann will probably be appreciated by those who like to devour a puzzle that turns the pages of Ann Cleeves or Paula Hawkins. It’s fun to figure out what happened, but the answers come too easily, details hang out, and key characters feel underdeveloped. However, none of this matters as much when Brennan is on screen. Sa Labhaoise is an unfazed woman who believes that any situation can only be improved with a bowl of homemade soup and a kind word. He’s a gentle, unassuming figure that people overlook at their peril. Brennan’s Bette Davis big eyes never miss a turn and are constantly shooting looks that could kill. Her long, flowing locks, steely manners, and uncanny ability to uncover the truth make her seem more witchy than detective. Doineann might even make a great pilot for a whole series of mysteries featuring his character.

Unfortunately, other performers can’t match Brennan’s magnetism, especially when working with more sketchy characters or whose motives remain obscure. Coonan never really takes the measure of Tomas as he goes from a mysterious man to a distraught husband, from a respectable journalist to a rude onlooker. At least he’s got a meaty character to play, unlike those who play the role of local residents who primarily serve as spectators.

Production company / International sales: Doubleband Films, info@doublebandfilms.com

Producers: Dermot Lavery, Christopher Myers, Michael Hewitt

Screenplay: Aislinn Clarke

Photography: Damien Elliott, Angus Mitchell

Editing: Sorcha Nic Giolla Mhuire

Graphic design: Barbara Ann Carville

Music: Mark Gordon, Charlie Graham, Richard Hill

Main actors: Peter Coonan, Bríd Brennan, Clare Monnelly, Sean T. O’Meallaigh

About Michelle T. Friesen

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