JDIFF Review – Out of Here

Ciaran (Fionn Watson) returns home to Dublin after a year of travelling the world to find that finding his place at home may be harder than going away in the first place.

Out of Here marks director Donal Foreman’s first feature length film, although he has produced short films in the past. The story is an interesting one; all too often we hear of young Irish men and women leaving the country for pastures new, but we rarely hear about what happens to them when they come back. Returning home, and finding a new place to belong, is the focus of Foreman’s film.

Out of Here lacks a traditional narrative structure, and instead feels as though it is made up of scenes that fit together under a theme. Ciaran returns home to find that although everything has changed, nothing has changed and as he wanders through the city that he used to call home, we wander with him. Trying to reconnect with friends, family and the girl he left behind preoccupies Ciaran’s time, but as time goes on it becomes clear that no matter how much he tries to deny it, he has changed and perhaps it is time for him to find a new way to belong.

Although it may seem to the contrary, Foreman’s film is actually a love letter do Dublin; the city is beautifully shot and at once feels familiar and utterly strange, as though we were viewing it through the eyes of someone who has been away. Shots linger and show us the city from a different angle. Although there is a strong feeling of anti-climax at coming home to a recession bound country there is never truly a feeling of despair and Ciaran constantly tries to find a way to belong again. Lead actor Fionn Walton – who had a role in What Richard Did – captures the mood and feeling of a character who is trying to come to terms with returning to a familiar home, only to find it odd even as he falls back in with old friends and situations.

Although the rambling nature of the film works for it in one sense, this is also the film’s downfall; there is comment to be made here on the nature of return and finding ‘home’ again – a powerful theme that constantly recurs in literature and film – but the lack of explicit explanation means that Fionn and his actions sometimes feel selfish, as though he is as unwilling to change as his friends are to allow him.

Overall, however, Out Of Here is a film that deals with Irish people returning home to a country that is struggling as much as it was when they left; an idea that has been touched on all too little. Foreman’s film shows Dublin at it’s best through lingering shots and unexpected angles on the city. The message may get a little lost, but the mood of the film lasts through an engaging performance from Walton.

Rating: 3/5

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