IFTA Best Film 2020 | Arracht

Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos

Directed by Tom Sullivan

Tom Sullivan’s Irish Language Famine drama Arracht, nominated for a staggering 11 IFTA awards, begins by flitting between abstraction and solid grim reality, encouraging its audience to submerge themselves and either learn to swim or drown. 

Colmán Sharkey (Dónall Ó Héalaí), is a local fisherman in Connemara, well liked by all due to his warm disposition and talent for brewing poitin. Colmán, his family and community appear to live hard, but pleasant lives. There’s a certain fullness and authenticity conveyed in these early scenes. It is the arrival of Patsy Kelly (Dara Devaney) alongside a slowly worsening potato blight which begins to turn the tone of the film.

Patsy, presumed to be a deserter of the British Army, is taken in by Colmán at the behest of the parish priest. There is a darkness in Patsy which can only result in a violent act, an act for which Colman must suffer the consequences and try to either rebuild his life, or simply gain revenge. In Arracht, Colman is every Irishman wronged by the famine and those who caused it.

Where this film is strongest is in its performances. The majority of the dialogue being spoken as Gaeilge is a small beauty in an otherwise bleak film.

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