Regarded by his neighbours as a harmless misfit, eliciting idle kindness, benign tolerance and occasional abuse, Josie (Pat Shortt) has spent all his adult life as the caretaker of a crumbling petrol station on the outskirts of a small countryside town. He is limited, lonely, yet relentlessly optimistic and, in his own peculiar way, happy. But then, over the course of a summer, Josie's world shifts. Striking up a friendship with the new teenage co-worker (Conor Ryan), suddenly the lonely adult is drinking cans at the railway tracks with the local kids, and confronting his long-buried feelings for local woman Carmel (Anne-Marie Duff). When one thoughtless moment threatens his new friendship and confidence, events spiral and Josie's life is changed forever.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
With his gold trimmed blue 'Australia' cap and beer stocked hovel, Josie (Pat Shortt) could easily pass as a working class local in any Aussie bush town - well, an Irish migrant local, that is, given his brogue. He's just a wee bit slow, but he's a gentle soul and everyone (almost) treats him like a brother. His life has been a one note affair, looking after the crumbling garage outside town, owned by middle class Mr Gallagher (John Keogh).
When Mr Gallagher extends the trading hours at the weekend and hires part timer David (Conor Ryan), Josie develops a friendship with the 15 year old, even sharing his stock of beer with him after work. The friendship takes Josie out of his lonesome routine and he even dances with shopkeeper Carmel (Anne-Marie Duff), who has to fend off his tentative advances.
When one of his regular customers, a long distance truck driver, brings back a porn video as a gift, Josie, out of a sense of ladish camaraderie but thoughtlessly, shares the tape. Shortt (a renowned Irish comedian) inhabits Josie so completely as to disappear; Josie, with his shuffling, Chaplinesque walk and his puppy smile, walks a fine line between pitiable and happily self contained.
The film is a study of how a seemingly insignificant and benign mistake can unravel into a tragedy, given the right circumstances. Lenny Abrahams makes sure that we get close to Josie and fully understand him so that when the fatal mistake is discovered, we are full investors in Josie's fate. It's a small, melancholy, intricately crafted and beautifully performed film, likely to find an enthusiastic following over a long period of time.
Published: May 22, 2008
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GARAGE: DVD (MA)
CAST: Pat Shortt, Anne-Marie Duff, Conor Ryan, John Keogh, Denis Conway
PRODUCER: Ed Guiney
DIRECTOR: Lenny Abrahamson
SCRIPT: Mark O'Halloran
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Peter Robertson
EDITOR: Isobel Stephenson
MUSIC: Stephen Rennicks
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Padraig O'Neill
RUNNING TIME: 81 minutes
PRESENTATION: 16:9 widescreen; DD 2.0
SPECIAL FEATURES: none
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Force
DVD RELEASE: April 24, 2008