Death Of A Superhero

 

Directed by Ian Fitzgibbon. Starring Andy Serkis, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Aisling Loftus, Michael McElhatton, Sharon Horgan 15A cert, limited release, 96 min

YOU MIGHT reasonably expect a film about a dying teenager to be something of a downer. Well, the latest release from Ian Fitzgibbon, director of A Film with Me in It and Perrier’s Bounty, does work hard – and responsibly – at injecting colour into this most troubling of scenarios.

The protagonist fancies himself as a cartoonist, and very nicely rendered animations comment fantastically on his crises throughout. The stuttering relationship between the boy and a female contemporary is energised with grumpy adolescent anger. But this is ultimately a sombre movie that chooses to pull few punches.

The first-rate Thomas Brodie-Sangster plays a smart, middle-class Dublin kid named Donald Clarke (let’s just move on, shall we?). As the film begins, some time after Donald’s cancer diagnosis, the lad is becoming increasingly withdrawn from his traumatised parents (Michael McElhatton and Sharon Horgan). He is sent to talk to a steady, inhumanly patient therapist (Andy Serkis) and slowly, reluctantly begins to connect a little better with those around him.

The performances are honest and grounded throughout. It’s particularly pleasing to see the great Andy Serkis stepping away from the motion-capture, calming down by several degrees and proving that he can excel in restrained, thoughtful roles.

Andrew McCarten’s adaptation of his own novel evades sentimentality as it confronts various unhappy truths: Donald suffers night terrors; he acidly asks fellow patients what they are going to do when they grow up. However, for all its integrity, the film does ultimately feel a little short on plot.

So many bases are covered that, from time to time, Death of a Superhero comes across more like an educational tool than a fully fleshed-out drama. We don’t quite ask that a teen drama take on the relentless fatalism of Michael Haneke’s Amour. A little more narrative would, however, have been welcome.

An impressive piece, nonetheless.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.