Whole Lotta Sole

Whole Lotta Sole ***

BELFAST’S Terry George follows up his recent Oscar success with a fish heist comedy feature, Whole Lotta Sole, certificate 12A. Set in the director’s native homeland. The film stars American actor, Brendan Fraser, alongside a competent Irish cast. Including Colm Meaney, David O’Hare and Martin McCann. McCann was previously seen portraying U2’s frontman in Killing Bono.

The story focuses on a botched fish market robbery that leads to a tense stand-off at Maguire’s antique shop in Belfast. The incident soon leads to the involvement of the local police and a chance for local gangster, Mad Dog to get revenge.

Brendan Fraser stars as, Joe Maguire, an Irish-American, who has fled to Northern Ireland from America, hoping to lie low from his American ex-wife and her Mafiosi father. When down on his luck Jimbo, played by McCann bungles an attempted robbery of a fish shop in St George’s Market, he ends up taking refuge in Maguire’s shop. Taking both Joe and his new love interest, hostage. As the stand-off continues late into the night, revolutions about Joe emerge that hint, that he might in fact be Jimbo’s illegitimate Father.

It would be easy to pick George’s film apart. The various storylines intersect each other, far too easily, resolving themselves with relative ease. But the film has such a light-hearted sense of humour and charm, that it may earn considerable good grace from many viewers.

George described the film as: “Dog Day Afternoon, meets A Fish Called Wanda, Meets James Young.” He said this feature was one of his first post troubles films about Northern Ireland.

Funded completely by Northern Ireland Screen and shot almost entirely within Belfast and Downpatrick, George alongside cinematographer Des Whelan, manage to give the film the look of a big American blockbuster. Yet the film’s script still feels organically Northern Irish, written by a writer, who clearly understands the local lingo.

Overall, I was won over by the feature, in particular Colm Meaney’s fantastic performance as Detective Weller. The colourful characters seen throughout the film would not be out of place within a Roddy Doyle novel.

Whole Lotta Sole might not gain the same international level of success as George’s Oscar winning short, The Shore. But the feature is similar in its style and context, dabbling with the legacy left by the Troubles in Northern Ireland, but doing so with a smile on its face.

The film received its European debut at the Waterfront in Belfast, as part of the 2012, Film Festival in the city. Receiving largely positive reviews, it’s hoped more films like this will soon begin to emerge, as Northern Ireland has a fantastic culture, full of stories, yearning to be told.

Review by William McClean

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