Irish Comedian Pat Shortt stars in the worst Irish Comedy I think I’ve ever seen in my life. The film is about a Irish Builder in London who loses his job and finds out that his Father has died back in Ireland. During the funeral and the clearing up of the Father’s belongings Shortt finds out that his Grandfather was part of The Rising of 1916 in Dublin, and had signed the back of a flag that hung on the GPO. He then finds out that a British Army Base in England has the flag hanging upside down in a barracks and sets about trying to return the flag to Ireland. At first he goes through the proper channels but when he meets with resistance it’s a set up for a Oceans Thirteen style robbery. During the planning Shortt meets up with a girl that he’s never had the guts to tell his feelings to.
I want you guys who don’t know who Pat Shortt is to not judge him on this film. Pat Shortt is one of Ireland’s best character actors, he’s incredibly funny, an amazing writer, and the one time I met him at a signing he was a total gent. His TV comedies are funny, well thought out, and a pleasure to watch, and when he tackles drama he has a steady performance that you just get lured into believing. So it was five minutes into this film when I asked myself ‘Pat What are you doing?’ The film hinges on this being the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising in Ireland, when the Real Leaders we had back then stood up for our country. I’m not going to go into a history lesson here but you should read up on the Rebellion against the British that we struggled through for 800 years. It’s a fascinating subject and there is plenty of source material out there to get lost in.
This film felt that it was easily 30 to 40 years out of date. The comedy is non existent and you have to suspend so much disbelief in what they are doing that you end up coming out of the cinema wondering why you are doing this for a living. Shortt can sleep walk through this type of role, and sadly does, I love the guy, I’m the first one there when he has a new TV show out, but this is hopefully just a glitch in the switch.
The paper thin characters around him are almost dazed and confused by what is going on and there are too many leaps of faith that the viewer has to go on. Two points in the film give this the one out of five mark, the first is the brief relationship that Shortt’s character has with his Hamster, this is the first few minutes of the film. The second moment was at the end when he addressed the attendees of the 1916 Celebrations in Ireland. But sadly even then this speech failed to have significant punch to get through. I get what he was trying to say, that a nation is more than a flag, it’s more than an anthem, it’s about the people who call this country home. But because the rest of the film is so uninspiring you just don’t care by this point.
I hate giving bad reviews, and this year we’ve had some marvellous home grown movies, A Date for Mad Mary, Sing Street, and The Young Offenders. These three films took Irish movies forward, showing a bright spark in our future of silver screen creativity, unleashing new talent. The Flag takes us back to the 1980’s style Irish films when we shot something slightly amusing, not funny, just amusing, and thought ‘That will do!’ The film could have been hilarious, it could have left us rolling in the aisles laughing, but I didn’t chuckle once, and every reviewer that you’ll meet in Dublin knows when I’m at a comedy as I laugh at anything. They often come out of a screening and ask me sternly ‘Did you really find that funny?’ I left the screening shaking my head in wonderment at the poor script, terrible supporting cast, and wondering how such a talented funny man as Mister Shortt managed to get tied up into that mess. I wouldn’t travel to a cinema to watch this and if I’m honest if this was on TV it would just make me throw on my Killinaskully DVD’s and know that a little bit of love and care would have made The Flag better. I think even other fans of Shortt would find it hard to show this any love.
THE FLAG has a stellar line-up of Irish acting talent including Moe Dunford (Patrick’s Day, Vikings) Ruth Bradley (Rebellion, Love/Hate ) and Brian Gleeson (Rebellion, Tiger Raid). It’s directed by Declan Recks and written by Eugene O’Brien who previously worked together on Pure Mule and Eden.
This comedy will be in Irish Cinemas October 14th.