Alice (newcomer Jane McGrath) comes from a nice, bourgeois Border home, complete with soft furnishings and pop art representations of David Bowie. She's not a bad kid. But against a backdrop of grey skies and what Winston Churchill once called "dreary steeples", Alice finds herself increasingly mixed up with the nogoodniks who race illegally around the backroads and empty quarries of the borderlands.
Alice's interest in bad 'un Jimmy (Love/Hate's Killian Scott) and his sweet ride Skyline causes her brother Tom to warn her away from the boy-racer scene. But a greedy developer has already set the stage for a tragic outcome.
In The Last Bus Home (1997), Dublin punks come together to form a band during a papal visit; in Mapmaker (2001), a cartographer gets caught up in political strife in Fermanagh. Film-maker Johnny Gogan has long – and commendably – sought to represent the cinematically disenfranchised. Black Ice, the Leitrim man's latest work, is no different.
Set in and around Donegal and the Leitrim border, this breakneck tragedy among misspent youth in motor vehicles touches on plenty of big themes: the hopelessness and destructiveness found among Irish adolescents, the need for speed among Ulster folk, and the lawlessness of the privileged few.
Sadly, the film’s temporal tricks – we begin in the middle of the story with a funeral – don’t quite come off. Flasbacks are muddy and confusing and typical of a screenplay that bites off more than it can chew.
The characteristically bombastic genre sits uneasily inside a micro production budget: the last boy racer flick to grace our screens,
you may recall, was Fast and Furious 6 and that cost more than $160 million to make and even more to market.
The cast works hard, but too often Black Ice tries too hard to be a chronicle of a certain time and place. Local references ("I got the hubcaps in Ballyshannon") soon take on the quality of a gallery-pleasing rock star. "Hello Cleveland" is just fine and dandy in This Is Spinal Tap; here it feels forced and inappropriate.