Back to the 80s: Our Review of ‘DannyBoy’

Posted in, What's Streaming? by - February 02, 2023
Back to the 80s: Our Review of ‘DannyBoy’

Novelists and playwrights sometimes adapt their own work into movies and surprisingly enough, those adaptations lead to good results. Ferdia MacAnna adapts her novel The Ship Inspector into DannyBoy. We’ll discover whether this adaptation reinforces that rule or is the exception to that rule. But first, let’s find out what the movie is about. Its titular protagonist, Daniel Buckley (Darragh Byrne), is a 19 year old living in 1980s Ireland. Their neighbours from the East exported their Goth movement and other subculture movements to the country. These subcultures changed the way they dress and listen to music.

Ireland has shabbier versions of goth clubs, ones where Daniel’s stuttering makes him strike out while hitting on women. He eventually gets to go home with two women. The first is Donna (Lucy Jones). The second and the one with the most screen time is Carla (Alexandra Moloney), a waitress who has a difficult time getting along with Daniel’s weird family. I’m giving myself a limit on what to say about Daniel’s family so I’ll make it quick. His mother Kathleen (Clelia Murphy) is an aspiring politician who wants to unseat some incumbent (Paddy C Courtney). Daniel’s younger sister Maeve (Helena Geoghegan) wants to go to the clubs that Daniel goes to.

Within Ireland, the Buckleys’ drama takes place in some barren coastal town so it’s easy to cover up signs of the 21st century and transport viewers into the 1980s. The production has its limits but most movies with small productions compensate with charm that DannyBoy sadly lacks. A better version, or a better adapter, can make familial inside jokes feel specific. But there’s no rapport among the characters playing the Buckley’s. At the risk of beating something that’s already down, it’s as if a child wrote the dialogue instead of an adult. There are also parts of DannyBoy that lack complexity and tone.

Let’s discuss, for example, the scene where Daniel brings Carla over to have dinner with his family, which turns disastrous. Maeve makes a pun about Carla’s name that is too immature to be funny and is too nonsensical to be insulting. Kathleen, on the other hand, brings up Carla’s politics, which feels left field because Carla doesn’t seem political. This movie isn’t the first one to either bring Irish politics or family drama into the screen. But even if it is, both the actors and the screenplay don’t breathe life into what may be legitimate grudges that characters have against each other. I chose to watch this film because it has the potential to be fun but it is anything but that.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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