White Irish Drinkers
DIRECTED BY: John Gray
WRITTEN BY: John Gray
STARRING: Nick Thurston, Geoffrey Wigdor, Stephen Lang, Karen Allen, Leslie Murphy, Peter Riegert
Screen Media Films
RELEASE DATE: March 25, 2011 (limited)
Set in 1975 Brooklyn, White Irish Drinkers is a coming-of-age tale not unlike many we’ve seen in the past. Though not exactly the most original of stories, however, director John Gray has delivered a decent drama that’s worth a watch.
The movie follows Brian Leary (Nick Thurston), a talented 18-year-old artist facing the always difficult decision of what to do in life. He loves to draw and paint and would like to do it as a career, but he’s unsure if that’s even possible and doesn’t even feel comfortable telling his friends and family about it because he comes from a strict blue-collar upbringing. The only one who he does feel comfortable sharing it with is a girl he meets named Shauna (Leslie Murphy), who helps him expand his horizons.
While trying to figure out what to do, Brian finds himself pulling off some jobs with his career criminal older brother, Danny (Geoffrey Wigdor). It’s clearly not something that he’s good at and not something he enjoys, but his brother still pushes him — sometimes to violent confrontation — to do the big jobs with him and make some real money.
If the difficult choices he faces weren’t enough, Brian has an alcoholic father (Stephen Lang) at home who doesn’t touch him but always beats Danny mercilessly, and the caring mother (Karen Allen) who’s helpless against the abuse and just wants to keep her family strong.
Unfortunately for those who seek originality, White Irish Drinkers doesn’t quite have it in terms of story and situations. To be perfectly honest, we’ve seen these types of movies plenty of times in the past, and even in the same setting.
That said, there was still a lot of smaller things I really enjoyed about the movie, starting with the performances. There’s times where the dramatic delivery is a little too over-the-top, but overall I like the various characters and what they brought to the story. Thurston is a relative newcomer to the game and was able to really show his worth as a solid actor, and the old vets in Lang and Allen were able to show off skills they’ve not always been able to show off in the past.
I was also pleasantly surprised to discover a generous amount of humor mixed into this drama, which was very unexpected. Most of this humor comes from Brian and his group of beer-loving friends, but there’s also an amusing scenario involving a man named Whitey (Peter Riegert) who owes a lot of money to dangerous people and is stretching to find ways to save the theater he owns with the help of Brian.
There’s really not much more to say about White Irish Drinkers. Those who enjoy a good drama with impressive performances and worthy entertainment value should very much like this one, and even those of you who aren’t fans of the slightly unoriginal could still find plenty to appreciate.