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November 29, 2012


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Darragh Byrne - 2010
Olive Films

The title and the image of the car, almost always seen at the same beachside parking space outside Dublin, provide an appropriate metaphor for Fred Daly's life. Caught in a quandary of having no home and no job, and being denied public assistance for having neither, Fred's car becomes his home. Things change when a small time drug dealer, Cathal, parks nearby. The unlikely friendship acts as a catalyst for Fred to venture outside his familiar paths.

Parked is the kind of film that's not seen as frequently these days, a modest character study. There's no big theme, no tour de force acting, hardly any action to speak of. Most of the film is devoted to small, personal moments, conversations, and wanderings. There are big close ups of these small moments, such as the burning end of a cigarette, a tear from an eye, the illuminated face of a car CD player. There are even moments of humor, such as an overhead shot of middle aged women exercising in a pool, a brief wink at the more elaborate choreographed swimming designed by Busby Berkeley. One of the other nice visual moments is of a large, mechanical crane, the type designed to pick up a car, breaking into the top of the movie frame, descending on Fred's damaged car, as if it was the hand of God.

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In one lovely scene, Fred walks by a church, hears the choir, and steps inside. Again, nothing is overplayed, but the gospel style choir would indicate that if there is something called "Irish soul music", it doesn't begin and end with The Commitments. Colm Meaney provides a link, having played a recurring character in the film adaptations of Roddy Doyle's Barrytown trilogy. Meaney character in Parked is more introspective, trying to find his place in a sometimes hostile environment that use to be home.

Even though the film takes place in Dublin, this is not the Dublin usually seen in movies. Instead, the action is what would appear to be the outskirts of the main city, appropriate for a film that is primarily about people who are outsiders, the two homeless men who live in their cars, and a woman originally from Helsinki.

The film does allow Meaney, usually seen in supporting roles, to carry the film as the lead. In a film with modest ambitions such as this, Meaney plays well against the other actors, primarily Colin Morgan as Cathal, and the Finnish actress Milka Ahlroth as the widow with who Fred develops a tentative friendship.

The fourth main character is Niall Bryne's music. A good portion of the score is from a solo piano, primarily a plaintive piece. The musical theme is also part of an incomplete musical composition played by Ahlroth, with the sheet music serving as a kind of love letter.

After playing the festival circuit, Parked is getting a limited theatrical run. For those who can see this film theatrically, it may be the perfect antidote to those showier movies screaming for attention.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at November 29, 2012 08:00 AM