Mummy actor Brendan Fraser brought a little bit of Hollywood glamour to Belfast on Sunday with the European premiere of Whole Lotta Sole at the Belfast Film Festival.
Written and directed by Oscar winner Terry George, the film tells the story of Jim (Martin McCann) as he tries to pay back some of the gambling debt he owes to local mobster Mad Dog Flynn (David O’Hara). After robbing the local fishmongers, only to discover that it’s actually a front for the mobster’s business, Jim goes on the run and is pursued by police detective Weller (Colm Meaney). After being cornered in Maguire’s, the local antique shop, he takes hostage a collection of colourful characters, including Joe Maguire (Brendan Fraser), the owner who may be his illegitimate father and his girlfriend Sophie (Yaya DaCosta). Caught between the mobster’s gang and the police, the unfortunate Jim must find a way out of this tricky situation with help from his hostages.
This is Terry George’s first film since winning an Oscar for live action short The Shore.
While George’s work in the past has focused on The Troubles in Northern Ireland, his new film uses it less prominently (however it does linger in the background).
While he ties the characters together really well, there are, unfortunately, the usual Northern Irish stereotypes – the gypsy family, the working class lad going off the rails but with a general heart of gold, the no-nonsense gangster etc. While these people obviously exist (to an extent) it is becoming a bit tiring to continually see these types of people in literally every film ever made about this small part of Ireland.
However, what is slightly different about this film is the appearance of Hollywood star Brendan Fraser. To be honest, anyone could have played Joe Maguire but with George’s star at an all time high he has obviously been able to attract bigger names. Thus, Fraser plays his role very competently with some nice comedic touches, it’s always nice to see him in these roles, more the actor than the movie star.
The film as a whole is quite funny, with Colm Meaney providing many of the laughs, and in general it hit many of the right notes but with constant references to Northern Ireland’s violent past now a part of most movies concerning this little country, it’s beginning to wear thin.
Only George’s script, Meaney’s comedy timing and Fraser’s star billing save it from being below average.