Two homeless Irishmen — one (Colm Meaney) in his 50s, the other (Colin Morgan) in his 20s, both living out of their cars in an otherwise empty seaside parking lot — forge an improbable friendship in TV documentarian Darragh Byrne’s debut fiction feature, “Parked.” This engaging character study functions best as a two-hander: The male leads build a wholly believable, offbeat co-dependency, while their interactions with others tend toward the more generic. “Parked,” gearing up Nov. 30 at Gotham’s Cinema Village, will probably find a long-term space on vignette-friendly cable.With few characters and only a handful of locations, Byrne and scriptwriter Ciaran Creagh create a scenario on the margins of lower-middle-class respectability. Fred (Meaney) has recently returned to Ireland after many years drifting across England, practicing a variety of trades. Cathal (Morgan), who passes his time in a marijuana haze, has been kicked out of his home by his father. The two turn out to be as uniquely suited to helping each other as they are inept at helping themselves. Cathal introduces Fred to the amenities of a municipal gym and encourages his romance with Jules (Milka Ahlroth), a lovely Finnish piano teacher; he also shows Fred how to navigate the welfare system that refuses to enroll him without an address. Fred, for his part, fixes the prized watch Cathal got from his father, fills in the paternal gap, and attempts to wean the young man off the drugs that are increasingly taking over his life. Fred even essays some impressive fighting moves to save Cathal from a bad beating by goons to whom he owes money. Thesping is exemplary. Meaney’s meticulous, uptight Fred, ashamed of his homelessness and loath to try new experiences, blossoms under his wild friend’s tutelage, deliberately spinning his car out of control on an empty country road and risking ridicule by joining an all-women’s aquatic class to be close to Jules; in the role of an oddly unassuming foreign sophisticate, Ahlroth makes an unusual foil. But it’s Morgan’s charm that holds the mismatched elements together, even as the facile, predictable drug drama limits the film’s effectiveness. Production values are pro. Lenser John Conroy’s wintry seascapes convey the chilly atmosphere without excessive bleakness.
An Olive Films (in U.S.) release of a Ripple World Pictures presentation of a Ripple World Pictures, Helsinki Filmi production, with the participation of the Irish Film Board, Finnish Film Foundation, in association with RTE. Produced by Dominic Wright, Jacqueline Kerrin. Co-producer, Aleksi Bardy. Directed by Darragh Byrne. Screenplay, Ciaran Creagh; story, Byrne, Creagh.
Camera (color, HD), John Conroy; editor, Guy Montgomery; music, Niall Byrne; production designer, Owen Power; costume designer, Susan Scott; sound (Dolby SRD), Daniel Birch; sound designer, Kirka Sainio; re-recording mixers, Peter Nordstrom, Saino; casting, Louise Kiely. Reviewed on DVD, New York, Nov. 25, 2012. Running time: 94 MIN.
Colm Meaney, Colin Morgan, Milka Ahlroth, Stuart Graham, David Wilmot, Michael McElhatton.