It’s been a while since ‘Three Thousand Versts’ attempted a movie review, but it isn’t every weekend I attend the 'World Premiere' of an Irish flick.
Belfast Film Festival’s ’Gala Screening’ of ’Five Day Shelter’ got off to an inauspicious start, when the star, John Lynch, introduced it with a cheery reference to Manchester United. With reluctance I decided to set my prejudice aside.
I needn’t have bothered. ‘Five Day Shelter’ is an epically dreary and boring film. Imagine a fifteen minute short by film students at the local tech, extended to feature length.
It starts wilfully slowly and remains stubbornly one-paced for eighty odd minutes. The characters may as well be cut out of card. There’s no trace of humanity or anything to empathise with here. Yes, it’s grim and urban, but to what end?
The film introduces a couple of themes which could be interesting, but they aren’t developed at all.
The main characters all have dogs and cats in their lives. They show some fondness for their animals and this, presumably, is supposed to allude to some spark of meaning in all the black futility.
Then a junkie character, Nick, who is rather well acted by Michael Fitzgerald, briefly threatens to break into 3D. There's a hint that he might have a modicum of wit or intelligence.
Once, for an instant, there was hope that the relationship between a charmless step father, played by Lynch, and his wife’s daughter, jess, might be explored. Again, a dead end.
Director Ger Leonard clearly didn’t want to sully the ‘poeticism’ we were told to expect from his film with characters, relationships or plot.
Nothing works here. The lives in the film are supposed to interweave, but while movies like Magnolia carry off that trick, all we have in ‘Five Day Shelter’ is a few random coincidences.
Then there’s the sloooow camerawork which is supposed to be poetic.
The synopsis in the festival programme, the cringe-making compere and the lead actor all claimed this quality for the film. I’ve got news for them! Panning really slowly does not, in and of itself, equate to poeticism!
What really cheesed me off about this movie, most of all, is that it epitomises everything that gives the arts a bad name.
The director was taken off post-production, and he claims that the film is not true to his original intentions. Unless his original intentions were to speed the pace up substantially and actually write some characters, I'm afraid it makes little difference to my verdict.
Books, plays or films like this are what happen when someone with precious little talent, but what he interprets as an ‘artistic temperament’, sets out to impress like-minded pseuds.