How to Cheat in the Leaving Certificate

In the pre-credits sequence, a stern instructor informs his already petrified students: "Your entire lifetime will be determined by what you'll do in three hours. Failure in the certificate is failure in life." It doesn't help matters that there have been attempted and successful suicides over the dreaded exam. Using droll humor that is occasionally laced with irony, tale describes the recruitment of six characters, all sworn to utmost secrecy, to execute the outrageous plan. What justifies the action, from the students' point of view, is the suffering they endure within an educational system that's outdated, limited in scope and impractical in the kind of knowledge it imparts.

With:
Mr. Fornson ..... Eamon Morrissey Cara ..... Aileen O'Connor Fionn ..... Garret Baker Niall ..... Joe McKinney Briab ..... Lee Dunne Charlie ..... Mary McEvoy Elli ..... Alison Coffey

In the pre-credits sequence, a stern instructor informs his already petrified students: “Your entire lifetime will be determined by what you’ll do in three hours. Failure in the certificate is failure in life.” It doesn’t help matters that there have been attempted and successful suicides over the dreaded exam.

Using droll humor that is occasionally laced with irony, tale describes the recruitment of six characters, all sworn to utmost secrecy, to execute the outrageous plan. What justifies the action, from the students’ point of view, is the suffering they endure within an educational system that’s outdated, limited in scope and impractical in the kind of knowledge it imparts.

Once the premise has been set and central characters established, the film becomes less funny and more suspenseful regarding the final outcome of the scandalous act. Compensating for the plot’s narrow focus are the helmer’s bold visual style and the intermittently witty voiceover narration.

Relying for the most part on close-ups of his appealing thesps, Jones shot his movie in B&W Super 16mm, later blown up to a satisfying 35mm format. The director overcomes the limitations of an extremely small budget with considerable technical panache that helps evoke a fanciful mood but doesn’t slight the tale’s more serious points.

How to Cheat in the Leaving Certificate

Production: A Graham Jones production. Produced by Jones, Ciara Flanagan. Directed by Graham Jones. Screenplay, Jones, Tadhg O'Higgins, story by Jones, Aislinn O'Loughlin.

Crew: Camera (Rank B&W), Robbie Ryan; editors, Jones, Michael Cosgrave, Steven Davenport; music, Giles Packham, Jurgen Simpson; art direction, Owen Power, Oisin Roche; set decoration, Delores Lyne; costume design, Nicola Connor, Roisin Derrane; sound (Dolby), Eamonn McKenna; associate producers, Cosgrave, Ezio Fusco, Davenport; assistant director, Amanda Webb. Reviewed at Galway Film Festival, July 10, 1997. Running time: 80 MIN.

With: Mr. Fornson ..... Eamon Morrissey Cara ..... Aileen O'Connor Fionn ..... Garret Baker Niall ..... Joe McKinney Briab ..... Lee Dunne Charlie ..... Mary McEvoy Elli ..... Alison Coffey

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