Sanctuary (2017)

sanctuary

Director: Len Collin

Starring: Kieran Coppinger, Charlene Kelly, Patrick Becker, Valerie Egan, Robert Doherty, Jennifer Cox, Paul Connolly, Frank Butcher, Emer Macken, Michael Hayes, Karen Murphy

Review Author: Adam

Rating: 4/5 pints of Guinness.

In 2015, The Blue Teapot, Inclusion Ireland and the Irish Film Board came together to break down barriers. The project closed the 2016 Galway Film Fleadh hailed as one of the most ambitious projects in years. Sanctuary is the newest Irish film this July, starring an ensemble of actors with intellectual disabilities from the Blue Teapot Theatre Group.

I have to pay the highest of compliments to Len Collin’s directing, setting up some excellent red herrings in the beginning by teasing out the plot just enough to make you draw some assumptions about the characters, which in turn play out very differently.

I can absolutely put my hands in the air and say I wasn’t sure what to expect from this film. I was at the press screening a few days ago and I took my time to really think about the film’s story.

It follows a group of adults with intellectual disabilities, who break free from a suspiciously lax supervisor on a pre-Christmas Galway outing. Each event leads into the other perfectly and in terms of building a narrative that stays fresh, this film has it all. 5 stories running in unison, all sparked from a single event, each happening as a result of something wider in the plot, each feeding into the other subtly and pulling away just at the peak.

I was never bored, I was constantly entertained and I was roaring laughing at some of the one-liners that I hope end up in the Irish lexicon. ‘Two pints please, do you want a pint? Ok, two pints for him to please’.  The comedic timing, depth of story and unexpectedly dark twists completely knocked me down. It addresses some very real and often not talked about issues in Irish society that sent ripples across the small crowd I viewed it with.

The comedic ability of the actors turns to dramatic skill very quickly at certain parts that really highlighted not only the day to day struggles of various conditions but also the social and emotional struggles too. All the while also tackling misconceptions about people with intellectual disabilities.

I’m worried that this film isn’t going to get a long run, which is a shame, so I would absolutely encourage everyone to see it.

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