Review: ‘Pilgrim Hill’

A massive tragedy told in a minor key, Gerard Barrett's invisibly scripted debut captures the plight of bachelor farmers in rural Ireland -- decent men who endure hardscrabble conditions with no kin to benefit from their efforts.

A massive tragedy told in a minor key, “Pilgrim Hill” captures the plight of bachelor farmers in rural Ireland — decent men who endure hardscrabble conditions with no kin to benefit from their efforts. For the better part of Gerard Barrett’s invisibly scripted debut, the only person onscreen is forlorn-looking Jimmy Walsh (Joe Mullins), who shares his life with a sick, offscreen father and nearly 20 head of cattle. Sampling introspective moments from the man’s mostly solitary existence without ever slipping into tedium, this understated examination of a very specific microcosm features universal enough themes to move auds everywhere it travels.

Whatever rough edges the film may show can easily be forgiven upon learning that Barrett shot the feature for less than $6,000 over seven virtually sunless days. The result feels like pure documentary for the first hour or so, an illusion heightened by the helmer’s decision to intercut Jimmy’s routine — tending the cows, selling the milk in town, silently watching television — with a somber oncamera interview. Substituting for more traditional narration, this odd confessional footage heightens the pic’s naturalistic approach, making the unlucky breaks that follow feel more true-to-life.

Pilgrim Hill

Ireland

Production

A Nine Studios and Irish Film Board presentation. Produced, directed, written, edited by Gerard Barrett.

Crew

Camera (color, DV, widescreen), Ian D. Murphy. Reviewed at Telluride Film Festival, Sept. 2, 2012. (Also in Galway Film Festival.) Running time: 78 MIN.

With

Joe Mullins, Muiris Crowley, Corina Gough, Kevin McCormack.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Film News from Variety

Loading