I can't think of a better way to end TIFF 2010 than to watch a film that had the entire audience in tears.
Writer/director John Gray's moving film, White Irish Drinkers, is a story about two brothers living in a working class Brooklyn home, with an abusive father and a well-meaning mother. Danny (Geoff Wigdor) plays a violent young man who makes a living stealing. He's the target of abuse in the household, as his younger brother, Brian (Nick Thurston) is an artist. Yes, a gifted artist living amongst anguish, violence, and a neighbourhood that evokes feelings of hopelessness. And because he is so different from people around him, he just may have a chance to get out and live a better life.
White Irish Drinkers has a stellar cast, as Stephen Lang delivers a compelling performance as a deeply troubled alcoholic who has a hard time connecting with his family...and resorts to insulting and beating his eldest son. Karen Allen is the classic mother who tries to keep the peace in the household but fails every time.
Nick Thurston is mesmerizing. His eyes are quite haunting and hard to turn away from. He plays his part beautifully, a delicate balance between a strong artistic spirit and a vulnerable heart.
At the end of the screening, John Gray held an intimate Q and A, where I learned that the film was shot in 17 days, and like most brilliant films, had a low budget. While he and his team mostly worked in television, they wanted to do something "just for them" which turned out to be a film that most people in the audience echoed "this really brought back memories of my childhood."
White Irish Drinkers has yet to secure a distribution deal, which I don't think they will have much trouble getting. A riveting story with powerful performances.