The last year has been great for Irish talent, we’ve had stars like Saorise Ronan rise internationally with Lady Bird, films like Cardboard Gangsters from director/writer Mark O’Connor have garnered critical acclaim and The Breadwinner from Cartoon Saloon was noiminated for an Oscar. All and all everything is coming up Ireland, which brings me to the latest film that has come out of our shores, Michael Inside.
Starring Dafhyd Flynn, Lalor Roddy, and Moe Dunford from a script by Frank Berry as well as directed by the man himself Michael Inside is the story of Michael McCrea (Flynn) and his incarceration after he is found guilty of drug possession. The film follows him over the course of 3 months in prison as well as following his grandfather Francis McCrea (Roddy) who is dealing with his own problems after the seizure of the drugs Michael was supposed to move has put Francis and Michael on the wrong side of a gangster in their area. In the prison Michael quickly makes enemies, within the first day or so he is soundly beaten simply for giving someone the wrong answer to a question but there is a silver lining in the shape of David (Dunford) who helps Michael assert himself against his oppressor, unfortunately this begins Michael down a slippery slope that could lead him further from the life he hopes to lead.
Dafhyd Flynn was recently announced as one of the rising stars in Ireland and after watching this film I completely understand why. He brings a naivety to his performance that makes the journey of Michael all the more powerful. Although he has a somewhat clear understanding of what he’s getting himself into (his father is in prison) it is not until the night before he has to arrive at the prison does the gravity of the situation hit him and Flynn plays it so expertly and organically that you feel like you’re right there with him. It takes a special kind of actor and a special kind of director to get so much out of one scene and this brings me to one of the most pivotal elements of the success of Michael Inside director Frank Berry.
Having written and directed Michael Inside, Frank Berry took on a lot of responsibility with this film and he has succeeded in shaping the harrowing journey of this character and the tainted world that he inhabits. Flynn isn’t alone in this film though, with him as I stated earlier is Moe Dunford and Lalor Roddy who each give fantastic performances both playing almost the two sides of the world that Michael has to choose from. With David (Dunford) Michael see’s a way to control the chaos he has found himself in, it may lead to a darker path as David is a damaged individual who hopes to bring Michael into his world though the audience can see that David is in a twisted way doing this for Michael’s own good so that he can cut through the crap as soon as possible so that Michael can be properly prepared for the world he is entering. Lalor’s Francis, however, is the other side of the coin trying to protect his grandson from what has happened to his own son and watching this fail and Francis try to hold onto the innocence of this young man is heartbreaking.
Michael Inside is an intimate and emotional story that is filled with incredible performances that you may not realise how much they are affecting you until you are wiping away the tears as the credits roll to this all too real story.