Mark (Mark Doherty) is having a bad day. A struggling actor, he's just been through the ordeal of yet another fruitless audition for a bit part in a movie. With his long-suffering girlfriend (Amy Huberman) about to walk out, and his landlord (Keith Allen) ready to evict him, he's only got his best mate Pierce (Dylan Moran) and their joint ambition of writing a career-breaking film to sustain him. Life's not easy, but things are about to get worse... much worse, and then someone dies and things get really bad.

A bleak black comedy premise that doesn't pay off.

The UK film industry’s willingness to explore working-class losers thrust into situations of their own moronic making has made for some terrific films. In recent years, Bruce Robinson’s cult classic Withnail & I, the Danny Boyle double of Shallow Grave and Trainspotting and the (slightly more hopeful) films of Shane Meadows have placed lead characters in the middle of plotlines that have provided mirth, mayhem and existential angst in equally entertaining measure.

The latest bleak comedy cut from the black cloth of U.K. society is Ian Fitzgibbon’s A Film With Me In It. Mark Doherty (who also wrote the original screenplay) plays Mark, an unemployable actor cursed with an inability to see his life for the desperate mess it has become (an opening audition scene opposite real-life director Neil Jordan is cringingly funny). For some unknown reason, Mark places a great deal of faith in the charismatic but equally-unhinged observations and ambitions of his bestfriend Pierce (real-life standup comedian Dylan Moran), an alcoholic with delusional visions of casting Mark in his 'great, epic screenplay" ('it’s Fargo with a bit of Dog Day Afternoon").

One typically-aimless afternoon, things go horribly awry for Mark when in the space of four minutes, his intolerant landlord (Keith Allen, father of singer Lily), his intellectually-disabled, wheelchair-bound brother (David O’Doherty), his dog Jersey and his beautiful girlfriend Sally (Amy Huberman) all meet horrible but accidental ends in his student-squat style apartment.

Pierce's nonsensical ramblings don't help alleviate Mark's anxiety so, when a policewoman (Aisling O’Sullivan) makes an unrelated visit to the crime scene, Mark melts down.

I know, it sounds funny in a Weekend At Bernies sort-of-way, and there are some undeniably amusing moments, mostly springing from the desperate situation Mark and Pierce were in before all the mayhem begins. But the script proves its own worst enemy – in revving up the complications that befall the challenged duo, it pushes credibility to the extreme and then beyond. No amount of sly, beguiling Irish charm can overcome the inherent stupidity of the lead characters or the increasingly not-funny-just-hopeless situations in which they find themselves.

As Mark, Doherty – resembling a haggard, younger-brother version of American character actor Harry Dean Stanton – conveys an indifference to the life that he has created for himself that doesn’t make his ultimate plight all that cathartic or appealing. Dylan Moran provides another riff on the screen persona he displayed opposite Simon Pegg in Run Fat Boy Run (and in TV's Black Books), though the material is slimmer and the responsibility for him to carry scenes shows. Director Fitzgibbon is a talent to watch – he makes the most of his largely single-set environment and shows an understanding of and a willingness to explore the dark corners that his characters inhabit, but the words never quite match the depth of his visuals.

It is obvious that it was Moran's profile that caused this film to be one of the lone Irish productions to hit our shores of late, as I am certain the local industry makes better movies that don't travel. In late 2007, The Irish Film Board launched this movie with three other films – Daisy Chain, starring Samantha Morton, Alarm and Our Wonderful Home – that have yet to see a global release. A Film With Me In It provides a few giggles and some shrewd black comedy, but it can’t be the best film Ireland has to offer the world in 2009, can it?


1 hour 23 min
In Cinemas 07 May 2009,
Wed, 07/08/2009 - 11