Dir.: Robert Higgins, Patrick McGivney; Cast: Eanna Hardwicke, Danielle Galligan, Lorcan Cranitch, Dafhyd Flynn, Gary Lydon; ROI 2022 100 min.
Irish films have been recently in the (Oscar) news, with The Banshees of Inisherin and The Quiet Girl featuring prominently. Robert Higgins and Patrick McGivney also hail from the Emerald Isle. Their first film clearly has Lindsay Anderson’s 1983 classic This Sporting Life in mind but fails to overcome the emotional limits of its two main characters it ends up in a cul de sac of Neo realism.
Farmer Cian (Hardwicke) is the captain of the local Gaelic Football team in Granard Longford a rather drab town in the Irish countryside. In order to find the ‘bright lights’, Cian and his mates have to take a long bus ride to Cavan, where nightclubs promise girls and drugs. In a senseless brawl outside a pub Cian suffers a life-changing concussion. Unable to cope with the long-term after effects due to CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) he and his coach Bernie (Lydon) are forced to re-think his promising future.
The macho culture surrounding Irish football is partly to blame for the lack of understanding surrounding Cian’s condition, and the club’s supporters are not sympathetic: the captain of the local Minor League is not supposed to submit to such an outlandish illness. The reactions mirror Cian’s own assessment: it will go away, he has to be patient. But Cian has to face up to that fact that his career and his social standing in the community are ruined, and Cian becomes increasingly morose and downcast, not helped by his father Diarmud (Cranitch). Then hope comes along in the shape of Grace (Galligan), a nurse who will soon return to the UK. This relationship is left open, one of the flaws in the script, along with the failure to properly address the toxic male culture, difficulties to find an ending, Higgins and McGivney flounder even more with a half-hearted compromise.
Whilst the rural background is anything but romantic as the title suggests, DoP Simon Crowe overloads the images with utter dreariness to the point of boredom. To show the landscape of having an input in the behaivior of Cian and his mates is one thing, but dragging the audience for 100 minutes of senseless repetitive images is asking simply too much. Cian and Gabrielle’s relationship, the centre of the feature, is so opaque, that it asks more question than answers.
It is very clear what LAKELANDS was aiming for, but the execution is simply too lame and uninspiring. A missing dramatic arc leaves the audience dangling in an emotionally undercooked art-house fair. AS
IN CINEMAS FROM 5 MAY 2023