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Beyond the Fire


Stars: Scot Williams, Cara Seymour, Hugh Sachs, Chris O'Neill, Brett Findlay

Director: Maeve Murphy

A film so Irish that it took me a while to realise it was set in London (OK, OK, it was the big red bus going to Shoreditch that did it), this is a slow and anguished tale of Catholic guilt, savage rape and boyhood abuse.

Not exactly a barrel of laughs, it is indeed a sad and angry film about two damaged souls trying to connect.

Sheamy (pronounced Shamey - one can't imagine that's coincidental), played by Williams, is released from prison after doing time for an as-yet-unnamed offence. Taken in by an Irish music group based in a pub, Sheamy straightway fancies the band's manager Katie (Seymour), but he cannot make love and it emerges that both are wounded people, she the victim of a brutal rape and he an ex-priest who went to jail for an offence that's never clearly explained (though that might be down to Williams' thick Irish accent).

Seymour is fine emotionally, although her vocal readings are less certain, while Williams is really good. But some of the supporting acting is poor, and the film's low budget is painfully obvious, especially in a courtroom scene towards the end. Despite several musical interludes, the movie also creeps along like an injured animal, as it spins out its minimal story.

David Quinlan

Ireland/UK 2008. UK Distributor: Metfilm. Colour.
77 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 13 Jun 2009