The Stag: Heart and laughs, the quintessence of this Irish “bromance”
by Stefan Dobroiu
- John Butler’s feature debut is the most popular entry in TIFF’s Focus Ireland sidebar
Sometimes critics frown upon popular comedies, but it may only be because they watch them at press screenings. Met with overwhelming enthusiasm at the 13th edition of the Transilvania International Film Festival (30 May-8 June), John Butler’s first feature, The Stag [+see also:
film profile], made the entire audience laugh out loud with its inspired story about terrible misadventures that aid the discovery of true friendship and trust.
The star of Focus Ireland, one of the three sidebars that brought to Romania the best and most recent productions from Ireland, the Czech Republic and Germany, The Stag tells the story of an Irish bachelor party that goes terribly wrong when life, the universe and everything turn against the protagonists’ plans.
The future groom is metrosexual Fionnan (Hugh O’Conor), so involved in planning the wedding that his future wife, Ruth (Amy Huberman), begs best man Davin (Andrew Scott) to organise a stag party in rural Ireland just to keep Fionnan away for a few days. All seems fine until Ruth’s obnoxious brother, The Machine (Peter McDonald), finds out the itinerary and shatters all the plans for a relaxing getaway for the quiet party, rounded off by gay couple Kevin and Kevin (Michael Legge and Andrew Bennett), and IT specialist Simon (Brian Gleeson).
Although formulaic and without offering too much on the narrative front, the comedy’s mix of fine performances, funny gags and unpredictable reactions works a treat, not leaving too much room for disappointment for the cinemagoer in search of cinematic entertainment. The very warm reception at TIFF is only the beginning of a possibly very beautiful friendship between The Stag and Romanians: in November, the film will be released locally by Freealize, a new player on the Romanian distribution market.