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Non-Review Review: Metal Heart

Metal Heart is a charming and zesty coming age tale.

Written by Paul Murray and directed by Hugh O’Conor, Metal Heart owes a lot to the subgenre of female-focused teen dramedies like Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging. It’s the story of Emma, a teenager awaiting her Leaving Cert results and trying to navigate the path to young adulthood, unaware of the various obstacles that stand in her path – including her own preconceptions. The (metal) heart of the film lies in the dynamic between Emma and her fraternal twin Chantal, but there are a host of other complicated dynamics for the young woman to navigate along the way.

A large part of the charm of Metal Heart comes down to the strong central cast. O’Conor has drawn together an impressive ensemble for his debut theatrical feature. The adult players include Irish film veterans Moe Dunford, Dylan Moran and Jason O’Mara. However, the best performances in Metal Heart often come from its teen performers. Jordanne Jones is remarkable in the central role of Emma. Leah McNamara does good work as Chantal. Aaron Heffernan is surprisingly affecting in the role of obligatory comic relief as Chantal’s sweet-but-dumb-as-a-bag-of-rocks boyfriend Alan.

Metal Heart has a genuine sweetness to it, which infuses and informs the film. It’s a lovely piece of Irish cinema.

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Non-Review Review: Rosie

Rosie is a a very timely piece of Irish cinema, but one that never loses sight of the humanity of this national crisis.

From beginning to end, Rosie is infused with an endearing humanity. Writer Roddy Doyle and director Paddy Breathnach keep the story tightly focused on one particular family caught in the midst of the homeless crisis. Breathnach often literalises this, with a handheld camera that keeps the film literally centred on the face of the eponymous protagonist. Even in wide open spaces, even in public, even when she’s the only adult crossing a green or a schoolyard, Rosie is so tightly focused that it feels claustrophic and almost suffocating.

This is the point, of course. Rosie is a very visceral film, and with good reason. Doyle and Breathnach work hard to ensure that the audience feels ever minor crisis, and that it understands precisely how precarious the situation facing this family happens to be. A delayed lunch break seems catastrophic, a child spending time with a friend seems like a disaster. Time is fleeting, and always slipping through the fingers of its protagonist. When life seems to unfold moment to moment, there is no opportunity to catch her breath or to worry about the bigger picture.

Rosie is a fascinating piece of Irish cinema, both timely and intimate, both reflecting contemporary culture and telling its own story within that framework. It’s an impressive piece of work.

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