Ian Fitzgibbon / Ireland / 2009
Irish gangsters mouth off like poets in ‘Perrier's Bounty'. Beatings and grubby deeds are interrupted occasionally when a hard-man spits out a gem like ‘I can't believe the insouciance of the fuck'. Somehow it feels as if Harold Pinter had tinkered around with the script of the latest Guy Ritchie crime flick. Yet the really surprising thing is how naturally it flows.
The plot is strictly by the numbers as Michael (played by Cillian Murphy) tries to avoid mob boss Darren Perrier and his men through the Dublin underground. A simple debt cascades way out of control when Michael's neighbour Brenda accidentally shoots one of Perrier's loan sharks when they pay a visit. Soon Michael and Brenda go on the run with a bounty on their heads and Michael's melancholy father Jim in tow.
It's now that the skills of the scriptwriter and Irish playwright Mark O'Rowe start to show. Simple things an audience might take for granted are tossed upon their head to blackly comic effect. For example the pair of loan sharks who instigate the chase are casually revealed to be gay lovers called Ivan and Orlando. Alongside this Jim (played by Jim Broadbent) firmly believes that death will take him unless he can stay awake taking long moments to reflect upon his existence. O'Rowe and the director Ian Fitzgibbon take their time to build up this ludicrously tragic world amongst a very grimy looking Dublin made up of pool halls and lock-ups.
Understandably given the quality of the script ‘Perrier's Bounty' packs a punchy cast comprising Jim Broadbent, Brendan Gleeson and Cillian Murphy deserves attention. Murphy doesn't exactly get much to play around with but Broadbent and Gleeson have a ball with rolling O'Rowe words about. Broadbent's Irish accent may be from the Sean Connery school (i.e. not much of an accent) but it's all worth it just to watch his reaction as he wolfs down raw coffee powder to stay alert. Not that the caffeine helps as later on he manages to fall asleep in the middle of a torture session!
‘Perrier's Bounty' shares lineage with a couple of recent Irish films which bring out the pathos in genre situations. The most well known was ‘In Bruges' where Colin Farrell's hitman considers his actions in the Belgian beauty spot. Similarly in this film a major character weighs it all up as his demise beckons. But ‘Perrier's Bounty' pushes it too far. Bookended with an overblown narration about people's lives the film blows its balance slightly between the funny and the serious stuff. It's a small misstep in this hilarious gangster movie.