Director Lenny Abrahamson follows his quirky junkie comedy Adam and Paul with another tale of oddballs living life on the margins of Irish society. Stand-up comedian Pat Shortt plays against type as the gas station attendant Josie: he’s slow, middle-aged and moves with the zest of a Skoda. Josie is a character torn from the same cloth as the police inspector Pharaon De Winter in Bruno Dumont’s Humanity: events happen around him, and, unsurprisingly, his lack of guile is what lands him in trouble.
Because of his lack of intelligence and reputation as the village idiot Josie is only able to befriend 15-year-old David (Conor Ryan) and make desperate attempts to woo a local shopkeeper (Anne-Marie Duff). It’s painful and heart-wrenching watching him try to fit in. Abrahmason uses a minimalist aesthetic to capture the slow pace of life and his use of cuts and story progression are attempts at bringing the cinema of Robert Bresson to present-day Ireland. Despite the lofty ambition, serene camerawork and directorial intent, Garage suffers from second album syndrome. Abrahamson wants to progress from the quirky humour of Adam and Paul and deal head-on with more weighty issues, but when he finally reveals his hand, it feels factitious. The desire to surprise and stun in the heavy-handed dénouement doesn’t sit well with the smart observations and offbeat comedy that are a feature of Garage’s strongest moments.
GFT, Glasgow and selected release from Fri 7 Mar.