One hundred mornings

Fri, May 6, 2011, 01:00

Directed by Conor Horgan. Starring Ciarán McMenamin, Rory Keenan, Kelly Campbell, Alex Reid 15A cert, lim release, 85 min

IN THE WEEKS following an unspecified societal collapse, two young couples – Jonathan (Ciaran McMenamin) and Hannah (Alex Reid), and Mark (Rory Keenan) and Katie (Kelly Campbell) – attempt to sit out the dystopian unpleasantness at a remote lakeside chalet. “We have some fairly limited options here,” notes Jonathan.

He’s not kidding. With no electricity and dwindling food supplies, the quartet’s long-term prospects look gloomy. Outside crooked cops and marauding bandits run wild. Inside, cabin fever and marital infidelities make for uncomfortable silences.

Director Conor Horgan has fashioned a recognisably Irish apocalypse; nobody can explain what has happened and nobody is doing a damned thing about it. The characters, in turn, occupy a kind of limbo. Where Cormac McCarthy’s The Roadled to an ocean, One Hundred Morningsdescends into helplessness and acquiescence. Its creeping horrors are less visceral than those found within its accidental American counterpart, though no less tangible.

With few explosives or world monuments at his disposal, Horgan eschews accepted End of Days grammar in favour of character development and downtime drama. Trapped between the final credits of a Roland Emmerich epic and the revving of Mad Max, the foursome cling to a civilisation that no longer exists. Anarchy is only ever a domestic dispute away.

Plot points are established in chilly, indelible tableaux. Jonathan turns on a radio knowing no signal will come; a woman is taken away on a cart to a life of enslaved prostitution. Otherwise, Horgan’s secular rapture unfolds without bombast and in small movements. Minimalist dialogue and restrained performances find perfect compliment in Suzie Lavelle’s composed, unexpectedly lush cinematography.

Following on from PJ Dillon’s Rewindand Margaret Corkery’s Eamon, One Hundred Morningsis the third and final issue from Project Catalyst, the Irish Film Board’s 2007 micro-budget initiative. It’s not only a very fine picture; it’s practically a ransom demand for like-minded schemes. More movies like this one, please.