KING OF THE TRAVELLERS

3 out of 10

THIS IS AN IRISH FILM

Release Date: 29th March 2013 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Mark O’Connor (Stalker (2012) / Between The Canals)

Cast: John Connors, Michael Collins, Peter Coonan, Carla McGlynn, Packy Lee, Barry Keoghan and David Murray

Writer: Mark O’Connor

Trailer: King of the Travellers

1367149810There’s more incident in King of the Travellers than 10 years worth of Glenroe. King of the Travellers has a lot of heart but with all the good will in the world it’s still a slap dash pile-up of gypsy cliche. Trap racing, burning caravans, bare knuckle fighters, evil landowners, curses and honour all feature as if the makers would get fined by the real travelling community if they had of skipped them out of the film.  It’s like Snatch and Brad Pitt never happened as Bags (PETER COONAN) and the king of the gypsies, John Paul (JOHN CONNORS), avenge the latters father’s death when the alledged killers, the Powers, move to a nearby plot of land. For family honour they challenge them to a bare knuckle fight. But other elements fall into the mix. Why does John Paul’s Uncle, Francis (MICHAEL COLLINS – PAVEE LACKEEN) want to put an end to all fighting? How come there’s a beauty amongst all the ugly brutes in the shape of the winsome would-be love of John Paul, Winnie (CARLA MCGLYNN)? Is she proof that gypsies still steal children?

Reasonably competent performances are almost cancelled out by a bad finish on the movie that makes the film look like it was made by at least four different people. A professional looking credit sequence and a gripping opening scene showcasing a trap race kick off proceedings well. Then as the film progresses so the viewer’s will to live begin to leak away. The cinematography starts off at a reasonable standard but as the hire period comes to an end on another a microphone or lamp the movie staggers on, the quality rapidly dipping, as the melodrama and tragedy in the story begins to pile up.  The doomed arc of the main characters is showcased from the get-go so as it shambles towards a series of obvious outcomes it slowly dawned on me that I was watching the traveller equivalent of The Lion King with a few more deaths thrown in for good measure.

There’s very little concession shown for those that cannot follow the traveller dialect that is delivered at a speed twice that of Mickey (BRAD PITT) from Snatch could have ever dreamed possible. There were no subtitles with my DVD but I doubt the script contained too many more gems than I gleaned. So non-travellers may have a wee bit of trouble following the strong dialect. They’ll have no hassles following the very, very obvious plotting though.

King of Travellers doesn’t serve as an outsiders’ window into the gypsy life beyond compounding and confirming cliches as fact (I’m not sure how affiliated the director is with the wandering life). Travellers have been depicted better in films like Outcast or Traveller but are yet to receive anything as close to authentic as Pavee Lackeen, an Irish movie from 2005 that’s worth seeking out.

The ending to King of the Travellers comes abruptly and it seems like all the tragedies that the story tellers have thought up are set on a collisin course for the last 3 minutes, so there’s no chance to feel sorrow for anything on screen as we’re rushed through the formalities and then issued with one last piece of melodramatic blarney to bring in the end credits…. Did I mention the slow motion? There’s enough here to make the producers of Home and Away blush.

3 out of 10 – King of the Travellers starts off well before disappearing into a whirlwind of well-trodden tragic plot-lines shoddily assembled to resemble The Lion King in a caravan… “Meee Maaaaa!!! Meeee Daaaaaa!!! It’s shoite!”

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT EEJIT IN BEFORE?

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