Monday, 30 April 2018

Disco Pigs (2001)

Disco Pigs seems to be something of a Marmite film - you either love it or hate it. Personally I really like it. For the haters, it seems the usual argument of unsympathetic characters is to blame, but if every film had wholly sympathetic characters then a great number of movies would cease to exist - the gangster genre for one. 

Porcine obsessed Irish teenagers Darren, aka Pig, and Sinead, aka Runt, live in their own little bubble and private kingdom. Born on the same day, in the same hospital, and growing up as next-door neighbours, Pig and Runt are positively inseparable; twins but for the different bloodline, they speak in a peculiar short hand, often referring to one another in the third person, spend every minute of the day together and even hold hands at night through a hole they have made in their bedroom walls. However as they both approach their seventeenth birthday, their world is threatened to be torn apart as the thorny issue of sex rears its head. The unpredictable Pig has developed feelings for Runt you see, feelings that he wants to act upon just at the time when Runt begins to wonder if there is more to life than the unnaturally close relationship she shares with him.

Adapted by Enda Walsh from his own award-winning stage play, Disco Pigs features a pair of great lead performances from Cillian Murphy (who had originated the role of Pig on the stage opposite Eileen Walsh as Runt) and Elaine Cassidy. Both stars are obviously beautiful, but crucially both have the necessary acting chops to invest in the pair a sense of character and emotion that makes this a cut above your usual one dimensional doomed teenage love affair flick. Murphy is mercurial, jealous and volatile - routinely terrorising the young shop assistant at the off licence or performing an unexpected version of The Kinks' You Really Got Me to the jeers of the Republican sympathising patrons of an insalubrious social club - whilst Cassidy possesses a great and impressive stillness that neatly counterbalances such manic energy and has an understated flair for making you believe and invest in her character because - and despite the naysayers comments about unsympathetic protagonists  - Runt is actually quite sympathetic; Unlike Pig, it's clear that she has the potential to be saved and a desire to actually join the real world. It's easy to see why Murphy went on to greater things following this, and it's great to see Cassidy returning to our screens more regularly of late too, with a starring role the Channel 4 series No Offence. She's also really good in the film Felicia's Journey from around this time too.

Making her film debut, director Kirsten Sheridan takes Walsh's delinquent self destructive love story and creates a lyrical, magical-realist atmosphere that is quite compellingly immersive and visually eyecatching, which naturally helps to make the material feel less stagebound. Granted it owes a debt to the likes of Danny Boyle perhaps but, unlike a lot of Trainspotting copycats that thrived in the late '90s and early '00s, it can at least be said that this is its own original thing. 

PS the two little kids who played the young Pig and Runt - Charles Bark and Sarah Gallagher - are unutterably cute and do a fine job.

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