Directed by Darragh Byrne. Starring Colin Meaney, Colin Morgan, Milka Ahlroth, Michael McElhatton, David Wilmot, Stuart Graham 15A cert, limited release, 94 min

DURING THE YEARS of plenty, domestic pundits would often note that Irish movies still too often dealt in grit, misery and deprivation. In response, quite a few film-makers took to making pictures about nightclub habitués with asymmetric hair.

The first shot of Darragh Byrne’s beautifully acted, admirably humane drama confirms that gloomy times are here again. A middle-aged man (Colm Meaney) stares out at a grey, peaceful sea. Then the camera pulls away to reveal a dented motorcar with the word “scum” crudely daubed across the paintwork. Parkedis a film for the hangover years.

The unfortunate fellow, Fred, is a returning emigrant. Bravely and craftily, Ciarán Creagh’s script – free of pat answers – tells us little about what brought the protagonist to his current impasse. A resident in England for some years, Fred has returned home to a series of cold shoulders. Unable to secure council housing or dole money, he is reduced to living icily in his not particularly huge car. Given that the opening shot is plucked from the end of the story, we suspect that further unhappiness is to come.

In another part of the grim car park, a young drug user (Colin Morgan) is in a similar position. Initially the hero wants nothing to do with the kid, but gradually he gets drawn into his complicated life. No fault can be found with the acting or with the carefully maintained tone. The reliably warm Meaney offers a perfect balance of pathos and frustration. The dialogue finds comedy in even the most dreadful situations. The picture does, however, run a little short of plot in its later stages. Fred’s near-romance with a Swedish woman (there is Swedish money in the production) seems to emerge a little too conveniently, and the penultimate catastrophe feels somewhat forced.

Winner of best first feature at the Galway Film Fleadh, Parkedis, nonetheless, a very adroit, highly original piece of work. We’ll hear more of Mr Byrne.