They do make them like they used to. Very much a comedy of the recession, Lance Daly’s first Irish movie since the fine
feels a little like a Roddy Doyle adaptation from the pre-boom years.
Life's a Breeze also has something of an Ealing comedy about it (as did the Doyle adaptations, come to think of it). The result is entertaining but a little uncertain in its tone. At times, Life's a Breeze strives for a degree of social realism. Elsewhere, it seems less plausible than the recent, ludicrous The Internship.
The indestructible Fionnula Flanagan plays Nan, matriarch of a large brood that has been knocked in various directions by the economic slump. Daughter Margaret (Eva Birthistle) appears comfortable enough. Son Colm (Pat Shortt), an amiable dosser, seems unable to engage with the wider world. Another brother looks to be in serious financial straits.
One day the family sends Nan out for a trip with her wise granddaughter Emma (newcomer Kelly Thornton). When they return – to a loud “Tada!” – it transpires that, as a supposedly happy surprise, the siblings have cleaned up the house and thrown out many piles of festering debris.
There’s just one problem: the gang have dumped a mattress within which Nan has stashed close to a million euro. Colm makes the mistake of appealing for help on the radio. Before too long the entire country is on the hunt.
It’s a canny idea for a feel-good film in feel-bad times. And, for the most part, Daly keeps the tone light and lively. From time to time, however, certain odd narrative choices do jar ever so slightly. A late scene that tries to engage seriously with destitution seems out of place. It’s never quite clear how ghastly Nan’s children are intended to seem.
No worries. Shortt's familiar cowboy charm and Flanagan's stubborn charisma help Life's a Breeze rise comfortably above the following pack. There is more than enough grit, charm and mischief on display to offer consolation when the Germans sell the country for scrap metal.