Life’s a Breeze
★★★ (Out of 5)
THE theme of mothers coping with families reappears in Lance Daly’s Life’s a Breeze, though the tone is more comic than Run and Jump.
Receiving its UK premiers at the Irish Film Festival London, Daly’s movie stars the exceptional Fionnula Flanagan as Nan, an 80-year-old widow with the opposite problem to empty-nest syndrome, whose family, far from deserting her, won’t leave her alone.
This is typified by her feckless son Colm (Pat Shortt), who still lives at home in his forties and drifts between the pub, the bookies and the dole office.
But Nan’s fortunes take an odd turn when her family decide to tidy her cluttered house and throw out her old mattress.
Unbeknownst to Nan’s kith and kin, her mattress has 900k in cash stuffed inside, produce of a lifetime’s squirrelling and which, unsurprisingly, she’s eager to see returned.
This sets up some deadpan comedy-drama, with the family hoking around refuse dumps and landfill sites, frantically hoping to retrieve the missing fortune.
By-and-by the whole country gets involved, as the search becomes a nationwide hunt, with everyone thinking ‘finders keepers’.
Surprisingly, though, the narrative shifts away from farce into something deeper.
For Nan, finding the mattress becomes more about symbolically saving memories, a concern that becomes acute as she muses upon her death: “There’s no escaping it,” she insists.
She begins to confide in her granddaughter Emma (debutant Kelly Thornton) and a poignant inter-generational bond slowly forms, in what becomes a refreshingly candid tale.
Flanagan and Thornton share good chemistry and on this evidence Daly is undeniably a force for the future in Irish film.
Life’s a Breeze screens at the Tricycle Cinema on Friday (November 22) as part of the Irish Film Festival London. Director Lance Daly will take part in a post-show Q&A with Steve Cummins of The Irish Post afterwards