Saturday 15 December 2018

Are ya right there Michael? Stage Irish isn't a filmmaker's worst sin

John Michael McDonagh, writer and director of acclaimed movies The Guard and Calvary, has come out with an unusual statement.

"I'm not a fan of Irish movies," he said. "I don't find them to be that technically accomplished and I don't find them that intelligent. So I'm trying to get away from the description of [Cavalry] as an Irish film in a way."

While there has been inevitable cries of treachery, it's not hard to see why McDonagh would want to distance himself from recent Irish offerings.

After all, in the year that The Guard won an IFTA, the Irish movies nominated beside it in the Best Film category were Charlie Casanova, Stella Days, Albert Nobbs and Marengo. The Oscars it ain't...

Most Irish movies find little success outside of our own, tiny country.


Perhaps McDonagh, in striving for international success, is also trying to distance himself from the twee, stereotypical image of Ireland that is often portrayed to foreigners.

The problem with his comments is that it's easy for the Irish film industry to take offence to them. Responding to McDonagh, the Irish Film Board's James Hickey made some telling points.

"Calvary is a great Irish film, telling an exciting and challenging Irish story with Irish creative talent in front and behind the camera. Calvary follows on from The Guard, which also starred Brendan Gleeson and featured the work of a wide selection of Irish cast and crew."

Of course, the Irish Film Board also invested €750k of Irish taxpayers' money in Calvary, so for McDonagh to deny it's Irish roots seems ungrateful at best.

It's easy to see what McDonagh meant. It's just a shame that, for an obviously accomplished writer, he phrased it so shambolically.

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