A Further Gesture

A Further Gesture," a respectably crafted drama-thriller about a jaded IRA fugitive in New York, mostly fires from only one barrel. This Stephen Rea starrer is a pleasant enough diversion for 90-odd minutes but looks set to do only mild business in theatrical cells. Tense opening is one of the best parts of the pic, with a bunch of IRA prisoners in a Belfast jail being surreptitiously passed weapons by visiting femmes and long-term prisoner Dowd (Rea) joining the chaotic breakout at the last moment. Afterward, Dowd informs his girlfriend (Maria Doyle Kennedy) and jailmate (Brendan Gleeson) that he's off to the U.S. for a fresh start.

With:
Dowd ..... Stephen Rea Tulio ..... Alfred Molina Monica ..... Rosana Pastor Richard ..... Brendan Gleeson Paco ..... Jorge Sanz Scott ..... Pruitt Taylor Vince Roisin ..... Maria Doyle Kennedy Junkie ..... Caroline Seymour Ramon ..... Esteban Fernandez

In New York, steering clear of Irish hangouts, Dowd gets a job washing dishes in a restaurant, where he falls in with some Guatemalan exiles led by Tulio (Alfred Molina), his sister Monica (Rosana Pastor) and hothead Paco (Jorge Sanz).

Emotionally fried by years of political activity, Dowd is determined not to take up any fresh causes. His first mistake is helping out a female junkie (Caroline Seymour), who promptly stabs him in the back for his pains. After being taken in by Tulio, Dowd makes his second — and biggest — mistake, falling for the sexy and passionate Monica.

Discovering the Guatemalan trio are planning to assassinate a CIA stooge, Ramon (Esteban Fernandez), who committed atrocities back in their homeland, Dowd offers his help to the clearly amateurish group so he and Monica can escape together. This “further gesture” is to have unexpected repercussions for all four.

Rea, who proposed the original idea for the film to Northern Irish scripter-writer Ronan Bennett, has a long pedigree in hangdog, bruised roles, and this one doesn’t add many fresh wrinkles. While Rea’s performance draws the movie’s broad emotional outline, most of the color is filled in by other players, especially Pastor (excellent in Ken Loach’s “Land and Freedom”), who supplies some Latin flash and warmth as Dowd’s committed lover, and Molina and Sanz as her colleagues, respectively tolerant and fiery.

Bennett’s script never goes far into the politics at play here, which basically serve as dressing for a commercial thriller that’s more about one man’s life choices than a diatribe on the rights and wrongs of terrorism. Helmer Robert Dornhelm, who shot the pic before his recent, klutzy Austrian comedy “The Unfish,” directs reliably, helped in the action sequences by John Keane’s propulsive music. Other tech credits are pro, with Andrzej Sekula’s lensing catching the hard light of wintry Gotham, where the production was based in January-February ’96. The Northern Irish scenes were shot in and around Dublin.

A Further Gesture

BRITISH-GERMAN-IRISH-JAPANESE

Production: A Castle Hill release (in U.S.) of a Channel 4 Films presentation, in association with NDF Intl. and Pony Canyon, of a Zephyr Films, Samson Films/Road Movies Dritte Produktionen production. (International sales: Film Four Intl., London.) Produced by Chris Curling. Executive producers, Ulrich Felsberg, Rod Stoneman, Michiyo Yoshizaki. Co-producers, Bonnie Timmerman, David Collins. Directed by Robert Dornhelm. Screenplay, Ronan Bennett, based on an original idea by Stephen Rea.

Crew: Camera (U.K. prints by Metrocolor, U.S. prints by DuArt), Andrzej Sekula; editor, Masahiro Hirakubo; music, John Keane; production design, Kalina Ivanov, Tom McCullagh; art direction, Anna Rackard (Dublin), Diane Lederman (U.S.); costume design, Stephanie Maslansky; sound (Dolby), Simon Willis (Dublin), Brian Miksis (U.S.); associate producer, Laurie Borg; assistant directors, Martin O'Malley (Dublin), Todd Pfeiffer (U.S.); casting, Ros and John Hubbard (Ireland), Bonnie Timmerman (U.S.). Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (market), May 10, 1997. Running time: 97 MIN.

With: Dowd ..... Stephen Rea Tulio ..... Alfred Molina Monica ..... Rosana Pastor Richard ..... Brendan Gleeson Paco ..... Jorge Sanz Scott ..... Pruitt Taylor Vince Roisin ..... Maria Doyle Kennedy Junkie ..... Caroline Seymour Ramon ..... Esteban Fernandez

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