Saturday, November 29, 2008

Disco Pigs

2001, Ireland/UK, directed by Kirsten Sheridan

Despite two very committed performances from Cillian Murphy and Elaine Cassidy as Pig and Runt respectively, Disco Pigs tends to betray its stage origins rather too often to fully convince in its own cinematic right. While Kirsten Sheridan displays considerable imagination in opening the play up in visual terms - the opening, which narrates Runt's birth, the succession of shots of joined hands, the striking images of Pig and Runt alone on the beach - she is somewhat hamstrung by the decision to hew closely to the play's text, which is characterised by the unusual language that the lead pair use when speaking to each other.

While effective on stage, Enda Walsh's language often seems jarring on film, even when it also serves to reinforce the ways in which Pig and Runt diverge from the reality around them; born at the same time, and living next door to one another, they've developed a strange symbiosis which comes under threat when adulthood approaches. There are nonetheless moments when the language does acquire great power, particularly in a soliloquy, beautifully delivered by Murphy, where Pig narrates his vision of his developing relationship with Runt. The language is no barrier, either, to the emotional conclusion of the film, laced with shocking violence and a strange form of compassion that underlines the unique bond between Pig and Runt, who both understand that there is only one method of controlling what they have, however inadvertently, unleashed.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States