'Life's a Breeze': Film Review
A working-class Dublin family desperately tries to retrieve a fortune-stuffed mattress in Lance Daly's comedy
It’s a bit of a malarkey, to be sure, but Lance Daly’s comedy about a struggling, working-class Dublin family desperately trying to retrieve a thrown-away mattress supposedly containing a fortune displays a winning spirit that makes its stock characters and situations enjoyable nonetheless. Sure to resonate with audiences who may still be smarting from their own financial setbacks, Life’s a Breeze is breezy, lighthearted fun.
The plot, feeling like an episode of a long-running family sitcom, is set in motion when the unemployed Colm (a very funny Pat Shortt), still living with his elderly mother Nan (Fionnula Flanagan), decides to surprise her for her birthday. Enlisting the help of his teenage niece Emma (Kelly Thornton) to get her away for the evening, he and his siblings, including sister Margaret (Eva Birthistle), give her hopelessly cluttered house a thorough makeover, discarding years’ worth of detritus and installing new appliances and furniture, including a bed that he calls “IKEA’s finest.”
Returning home, Nan is horrified to discover what’s been done, despite Colm’s assurances that “it’s much better feng shui” and his proudly showing off the air fresheners that “keep the old folk stink away.” When she informs her family that the old mattress they’ve carelessly discarded is stuffed with her life savings of nearly a million euros, they refuse to believe that she could have amassed such a sum. But her steely demeanor and firm insistence eventually convince them, and the hunt to retrieve the mattress begins.
Eventually the story gets out and becomes a media sensation, with the entire community getting involved in the hope of the promised reward, or possibly just keeping the money for themselves. As the saga unfolds, a strong connection forms between Emma and her proud grandmother, even as we’re never quite sure that the old woman is telling the truth about the money.
Director/screenwriter Daly keeps things moving at a sufficiently brisk pace to compensate for the plot contrivances, and he’s elicited terrific performances from the ensemble, especially the veteran Flanagan, whose clipped diction and frozen facial expressions speak emotional volumes. Thornton is highly appealing as the sensitive teen, and Shortt manages to make his buffoonish character endearing, especially when he becomes the victim of a cruel joke by his family.
The film also looks terrific, with Daly, serving as the uncredited cinematographer, packing the widescreen frame with dense imagery that adds to the comic effect.
Production: Fastnet Films, Anagram Film, AB Film I Vast AB
Cast: Kelly Thornton, Fionnula Flanagan, Pat Shortt, Eva Birthistle
Director/screenwriter: Lance Daly
Producers: Macdara Kelleher, Lance Daly
Executive producer: Jessica Ask
Production designer: Waldemar Kalinowski
Costume designer: Anna Agren
Editor: Shimmy Marcus
Composers: Lance Daly, Declan Quinn, Eugene Quinn
No rating, 83.