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:: When Brendan Met Trudy

Kieron J Walsh’s directorial debut “When Brendan Met Trudy” is sure to delight moviegoers as an Irish romantic comedy, steeped in cinematic memories. Working from a script written by Roddy Doyle (author of “The Snapper” and “The Commitments”), Walsh crafts a likeable story between two completely opposite personalities. And he doesn’t try to be too deep about it. Younger viewers may see this as a standard romantic comedy. However, the avid, long-time moviegoer will recognise the references to classic films of the past through lifted quotes and even in the re-creation of scenes. For example, as was the case in “Sunset Boulevard”, the film begins with a hapless fellow face down in a puddle of water. This time, it’s poor Brendan (Peter McDonald) lying face down in a Dublin gutter. Brendan is a teacher in a private school. He is a shy man who has almost given up on ever finding a woman. His only thrills are singing in a church choir and watching movies (old Hollywood classics and avant-garde European films). Trudy (Flora Montgomery) is a bright-eyed, hip young woman, of a gregarious nature, and not into movies. Inexplicably, she flirts her way into Brendan’s life at a bar one night. Soon after, an awkward and budding romance is born. Trudy is everything in character that Brendan is not: extrovert, partygoer, and a risk taker. She tells him that she is a Montessori teacher. Somehow, their romance takes off.

But Brendan’s suspicions of Trudy begin to emerge when she sneaks out in the middle of the night dressed all in black. He’s not sure what conclusions should be drawn. Trudy will eventually reveal this meaning, and this “life” of hers takes over the second half of the movie. The character change in Brendan is most enjoyable as Trudy falls for his singing voice – he is also a classic Irish tenor. She takes him out to a party, hosted by her Nigerian friend Edgar (Maynard Eziashi) where Brendan is dared to get up and sing. One of his high points is the ability to sing “Panis Angelicus”, which will become the subject of a joke in the movie. His new experiences with Trudy include the joy of sex, and the joy of liberation. Trudy woos Brendan into her way of life, to the point of rushing to the aid of Edgar, when he is shown on television being arrested for deportation. Doyle’s screenplay also tosses in a few hurdles in true love’s path, including Brendan’s dysfunctional family, and every now and then he will indulge in re-enacting scenes from classic films. It results in some very funny moments.

Flora Montgomery is illuminating in her role. From a television background she transfers her talents wonderfully here, with a delicious sexiness and “go-to-hell” attitude. Her accent is extremely thick also. She tends to overshadow the timidly dorky Brendan. Peter McDonald plays the stiff, uninteresting persona well, and is the perfect companion to Trudy’s energy.

Kieron J Walsh’s directorial debut can be viewed as joining the ranks of recent Irish films that have emerged from Irish film history and embrace a universal sense of cinema. He gets good fresh comic mileage out of the movie greats and provides entertainment.

Screening at Cinema Nova, Kino Cinemas, Cinema Como, and Brighton Bay Cinemas