I Went Down review

Can a film truly, successfully combine guns, car chases, a coherent plot and real characters that actually develop? You might have started to doubt that such things are possible, especially if you've sat through certain recent big-budget fare. But this small-time movie from Ireland packs a killer punch. Made on a comparatively bootlace-type budget of £2 million, it stormed and topped the Irish box office and is now looking to make as weighty an impact elsewhere. First stop, the UK...

The background may be clichéd gangsterland, but the themes that leak out of I Went Down are universal. Git is a man in the wrong place at the wrong time, a reluctant law-breaker looking for a way out. Bunny, at first abrupt and stupid, becomes a character capable of great loyalty and surprising depth. Both men worry about women, past relationships and whether there really is a better life than the one they've fallen into. The two characters (and indeed the two actors) spar off each other to great effect, bringing humour to some potentially nasty situations, and hope and warmth to their bleak predicament. By the end, what could have been a depressing descent into a world of criminal also-rans becomes a joyous cross-country romp.

Special honours must go to gifted scriptwriter Conor McPherson for a sharp, smart, witty script that drives a strong narrative. This, combined with superb playing from the ensemble cast and unobstrusive direction from Paddy Breathnach, makes I Went Down a film that's small, comfy, enjoyable and well worth seeking out.

A brilliant black comedy, as dark, rich and deliciously smooth as a pint of (Irish) Guinness. And, like the famous black stuff, the more you have, the better it gets. Enjoy - then tell your mates to go see it as well.

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