Over the course of one weekend in Dublin, three friends embark on a series of drug-fueled misadventures, and get more then they ever bargained for.
This is the second Irish movie I have had the pleasure of reviewing in two days. The first was “Sing Street,” a musical comedy that opens in U.S. theaters tomorrow, April 22nd, and now “Monged,” a film that takes place in Dublin over one weekend and follows three friends, Dave (Graham Earley), a budding drug dealer, Ray (Rex Ryan), a failed DJ, and socially awkward Bernard (John Connors).
When Dave is given a new batch of experimental drugs by Corkfella (Joe Rooney), a slightly crazy gun-wielding drug dealer who informs him that he must sell the entire batch over the course of the coming weekend and make at least €10,000 for him, Dave freaks out but with a gun in his face, he has no choice but to take the stash. He puts his best game-face on and goes to a party with his beautiful girlfriend Samantha (Aoibhin Garrihy), with the intent of selling as many drugs as he can. While there, he meets up with his longtime friend Ray and the two meet Bernard, who is shy and introverted and was invited to the party by mistake. With nobody wanting to try a new breed of untested drug, Dave manages to coax Bernard to try some and over the course of the weekend, he becomes his guinea pig.
Because of the drug, and the fact that he has never used before, Bernard comes out of his shell and starts having fun but while the walls of his social awkwardness come crashing down, Dave must deal with the fact that Samantha is fed up with him and his drugs and is on the verge of leaving him, while Ray has just been informed by his girlfriend Linda (Clare Dunne), that she is pregnant. As the weekend unfolds for the three friends, their lives are turned upside down as they must all deal with the consequences of their actions, past, present, and to come.
“Monged” successfully combines its dramatic and comedic elements and while there are some severe moments, like Dave’s realization that his drug use may cost him not just his relationship with Samantha, but his life too, or Ray’s hesitant acknowledgement that he no longer loves Linda and may in fact, be gay, thankfully, these scenes are far and few between. While they are necessary for story development, they are not incessantly scrutinized longer than they need to be, allowing our friends to help each other out and move forward.
The movie encompasses a visual style that demands and delivers impact while the three main characters of Dave, Ray, and Bernard, played by Graham Earley, Rex Ryan, and John Connors respectively, deliver performances with absolute conviction. While the movie takes place in Dublin, for the most part, we only see the interiors of night clubs, houses, and apartments, but every now and again, we get glimpses of O’Connell Street (Dublin’s main street), the River Liffey, and other well-known landmarks.
I started making films myself when I was 12 years old and living in Dublin but as I got older, I was sad to see that many, if not most of the movies coming out of Ireland at the time, were either period pieces (“The Dead”), tragedies (“Lamb,” “My Left Foot,” “The Field”), or Hollywood’s perception of “Irish” films, complete with quintessential “Irish” characters, portrayed by actors not of Irish descent, spoken with ‘terrific’ and ‘believable’ “Irish” accents (“Far and Away”). “Monged” is such a welcome relief in that it obviously employs all local talent and every accent you hear is legit.
While the story itself regarding the ups and downs of a group of friends which takes place over a specific period of time, has been filmed many times before (“The Big Chill,” “Peter’s Friends”), it is the believable characters and their authentic reactions to the various scenarios they constantly find themselves in, that makes “Monged” appealing. While the characters are not perfect and at times, can be cruel and heartless, not just to each other but also to themselves, this aspect serves as a reminder that we are watching real characters live real lives and with every decision they make, good or bad, there will be real consequences, and in today’s world of weightless popcorn fare and exaggerated sci-fi and superhero epics, “Monged” is exactly what you need to bring you back down to earth.
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