Remember how Martin McDonagh gleefully combined pitch-black humour, shockingly profane dialogue and savage violence with his hit-men-in-hiding movie In Bruges? Well, Irish writer Mark O’Rowe and director Ian Fitzgibbon are attempting to mine a similar vein with the dark comedy thriller Perrier’s Bounty.
The film features kindred crooks and lowlifes, and even shares a star in Brendan Gleeson, but this time the action doesn’t take place against the picture-postcard beauty of a Belgian city but amidst Dublin’s scruffy urban underbelly and its wild hinterland.
Gleeson is the eponymous Perrier, a Dublin underworld kingpin who puts the titular bounty upon Cillian Murphy’s hapless waster Michael after one of his henchmen is killed. Michael’s troubles stem from an unpaid 1000-euro debt, but they escalate after his jittery neighbour Brenda (Jodie Whittaker) shoots one of the heavies who have turned up to collect. The pair go on the run with the corpse, and with Michael’s eccentric dad, played in a curious casting stroke by Jim Broadbent, who believes he’s been visited by the Grim Reaper and will die if he falls asleep.
The sight of the bumbling Broadbent first chugging down instant coffee in an effort to stay awake and then graduating to the more potent stimulant of cocaine is a blast, and typical of the calculatedly weird conceits O’Rowe and Fitzgibbon serve up. At times, they appear to be straining too hard for effect, but at its best the film has a cartoonish vitality – I loved the name the story’s posse of dangerous-dog trainers give themselves: the Savage Canine Vernacular. The plot may be all over the place, but the cast relish O’Rowe’s salty dialogue, even if it never matches the scabrously funny richness of In Bruges.
On general release from 26th March.