Review: ‘The Pier’

A prodigal son returns to the old sod to reconcile with his estranged father in Irish-born, U.S.-based multihyphenate Gerard Hurley's well-intentioned but poorly executed melodrama "The Pier."

A prodigal son returns to the old sod to reconcile with his estranged father in Irish-born, U.S.-based multihyphenate Gerard Hurley’s well-intentioned but poorly executed melodrama “The Pier.” Surprising involvement of exec producer Jim Stark and thesp Lili Taylor in this creaky indie item might spur additional fest play.

Summoned from New York by his father’s ultra-religious neighbor (Mary Foskett), fortysomething Jack (Hurley, stiffly earnest) arrives in the pokey seaside village of his birth to find his irascible pater, Frank (Karl Johnson, normally among the most nuanced of actors, but not here) ailing but no easier to talk to. Frank is a walking cliche whose m.o. is to shout, slug or slam his way out of a room. Jack finds relief in the company of visiting American Grace (Taylor, struggling to find character motivation), but the heavy-handed screenplay loads their conversations with a ludicrous amount of exposition. A few other plot points are introduced but, like Grace, left mostly undeveloped. Artless lensing favors the simplest of setups and tourist-postcard shots of the coast. Tech package is subpar, and thick Irish accents would benefit from subtitles.

The Pier

Ireland-U.S.

Production

A Black Equus Film production with the support of the Irish Film Board. Produced by Gerard Hurley. Executive producer, Jim Stark. Directed, written by Gerard Hurley.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Jesse Cain; editor, Frank Reid; music, Maurice Seezer; art director, Antonia Spamatie; costume designer, Emer Nagle. Reviewed at Karlovy Vary Film Festival (Forum of Independents), July 3, 2011. (Also in Jerusalem Film Festival.) Running time: 83 MIN.

With

Karl Johnson, Gerard Hurley, Lili Taylor, Mary Foskett.

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