A meandering journey across the cold, wet expanses of Northern Ireland becomes the road to salvation for two troubled single parents in the low-budget absurdist dramedy "Behold the Lamb."

A meandering journey across the cold, wet expanses of Northern Ireland becomes the road to salvation for two troubled single parents in the low-budget absurdist dramedy “Behold the Lamb.” Although full of religious imagery, from an actual lamb to cleansing water, the pic isn’t about God, but rather the redemption of two lost souls, executed in a talky, darkly humorous manner that recalls the impudent, poetic style of Martin and John Michael McDonagh. Slender fest item marks tyro helmer-writer John McIlduff as a talent to watch.

Recovering drug addict and sometime prostitute Liz (Aoife Duffin) unwillingly drives middle-aged epileptic Eddie (Nigel O’Neill) on a mysterious errand. At an isolated truck stop, they pick up a lively, noisy lamb whose belly contains a fortune in drugs. But before they deliver it, Liz stops to see her disabled son, living with down-to-earth foster parents, and Eddie makes some surprising entries in his birdwatcher’s life list. Well-cast lead thesps are as garrulous and quarrelsome as starlings, but their dialogue has a tiresome tendency to state the obvious. A triumph of grungy production design, pic gets periodic energy boosts from Brian Irvine’s spot-on score.

Behold the Lamb

U.K.

Production

A Dumbworld Prods., Channel 4, Northern Ireland Screen production. (International sales: Media Luna, Cologne.) Produced by Kevin Jackson. Executive producers, Katherine Butler, Cathie McKimm, Andrew Reid. Directed, written by John McIlduff.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen, Super 16mm-to-HD), Steeven Petitteville; editor, Nick Emerson; music, Brian Irvine; production designer, John Leslie. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Discovery), Sept. 10, 2011. (Also in Karlovy Vary Film Festival -- Forum of Independents.) Running time: 83 MIN.

With

Aoife Duffin, Nigel O'Neill.

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