An amiable look at a bunch of Irish illegals in New York, "Gold in the Streets" sports some fine individual perfs but tends to amble along without hitting many emotional high notes. Pic is a fine showcase for the emerging screen talent of Jared Harris, and gets a much-needed boost whenever Jim Belushi is onscreen, but this adaptation of a play by Irish-American Janet Noble doesn't look likely to mine much of a B.O. seam theatrically.

An amiable look at a bunch of Irish illegals in New York, “Gold in the Streets” sports some fine individual perfs but tends to amble along without hitting many emotional high notes. Pic is a fine showcase for the emerging screen talent of Jared Harris (“I Shot Andy Warhol”), and gets a much-needed boost whenever Jim Belushi is onscreen, but this adaptation of a 1989 play by Irish-American Janet Noble doesn’t look likely to mine much of a B.O. seam theatrically.

Fresh-faced Liam (Karl Geary) leaves picturesque, small-town Ireland for the less picturesque streets of the Bronx, where his first stop is a shamrock-friendly bar run by Mario (Belushi). Finding his contact Seamus has hastily ankled for Hawaii, Liam is introduced to Owen (Harris), a construction worker who invites him to share an apartment in a dingy walk-up

Liam’s fellow tenants are his cousin Des (Ian Hart), a weirdo loner who can’t hold down a regular job, and the more ambitious Paddy (Aidan Gillen), a gardener who has his sights set on Deirdre (Candra Doherty), blond princess daughter of his upscale employers in Westport, Conn. Across the hall are a trio of Irish gals, led by the upfront Mary (Louise Lombard), Owen’s g.f.

First half of the picture largely sets up the characters and their lifestyle, with plenty of carousing together and the ever-present fear of being busted by immigration officials. One of the girls, Breda (Andrea Irvine), makes a play for Liam, who rapidly damps her fires when he realizes she’s a fruitcake.

Pic’s underlying theme of how an adopted country changes immigrants and leaves them stranded between two cultures weighs in around the hour mark when Liam and Des, left alone on Xmas Day after Owen has temporarily returned to Ireland, get their first serious pangs of homesickness. In the talented Hart’s first real chance to show his acting mettle, Des confesses to Liam his sense of failure, the irony of being “unemployed in the land of opportunity.”

Most of the dramatic development is crammed into the final half-hour. The finale, centered on the death of one of the group, has a manufactured feel that doesn’t quite ring true.

Script by Noble and producer Noel Pearson opens up the play reasonably successfully but still tends to set its major scenes within the confines of the men’s apartment. This is less of a problem than the overall dramatic pacing of the movie, which for much of the time is flattish rather than engaging. Some of this is due to the unremarkable dialogue and the main players, who, with the exception of Harris and Lombard, don’t really hold the screen, especially newcomer Geary as the rather wan central character. In this respect, it’s notable how pic suddenly develops oomph during Belushi’s brief appearances as the bar owner.

Interiors shot at Ardmore Studios in Ireland meld smoothly with the N.Y. exteriors, with special kudos due p.d. Tom McCullagh (although visuals suffered from unattractive color processing in print caught). The traditional Irish score by musical group Kila adds some flavor to the proceedings, and Dublin-born, N.Y.-trained Elizabeth Gill directs unobtrusively, without bringing any strong signature to her first feature.

Gold in the Streets

British-Irish

Production

A Carlton/RFD release (in U.K.) of a Ferndale Films production, in association with Rank Film Distributors, Radio Telefis Eireann and the Irish Film Board. Produced by Noel Pearson. Directed by Elizabeth Gill. Screenplay, Janet Noble, Noel Pearson, based on Noble's play "Away Alone."

Crew

Camera (Fujicolor, Rank Film Labs prints), Jack Conroy; editor, Tracy Granger; music, Kila; production design, Tom McCullagh; art direction, Anna Rackard; costume design, Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh; sound design (Dolby Digital), Nigel Mills; sound, Simon J. Willis; associate producer, Billy Gaff; line producer, Paul Myler; assistant director, Julian Petrillo; casting, Nuala Moiselle. Reviewed at Green on the Screen: Cinema and Ireland Festival, London, April 5, 1997. Running time: 94 MIN

With

Liam - Karl Geary
Mario - James Belushi
Des - Ian Hart
Owen - Jared Harris
Paddy - Aidan Gillen
Mary - Louise Lombard
Mr. Costello - Tom Hickey
Breda - Andrea Irvine
Rose - Lorraine Pilkington
Deirdre - Candra Doherty

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