Directed by Rory Mullen, David Prenderville, Brian Quinn
Starring Graham Earley, Rex Ryan, John Conners
Indie Film Review by Lucas Wilson
Early on in Monged, Graham Earley’s Dave tells a stood-up, hopelessly socially-inept, Bernard (John Conners) that his situation is a “rite of passage”, one which, in those immortal words of inebriation, “s’happened to all of us”. If that’s true then it’ll be Bernard’s second rite of passage in one night, as Dave draws him into a blur of drugs and clubs, more to resolve his own problems as a would-be drug-dealer than from any concern for his less-than-savvy charge. Around the fringes of this bromance, DJ Ray (Rex Ryan) is as frustrated by his job as he appears to be by his attraction to a fella watching him from across the dance floor. Such are the threads wound up in Monged, an excursion into the lives of three Dubliners over the course of two heady nights.
If it sounds like familiar territory you wouldn’t be wrong, but that doesn’t diminish 75 minutes of E-strewn fun that, at its best, calls to mind a straightish Queer As Folk. Like that vaunted series, Monged is blessed with a uniformly excellent three-piece lead. Earley especially works wonders as Dave, a rogue who wins us over despite his generally appalling treatment of everyone around him, antics more likely to induce a smiling shake of the head than real revulsion. True to archetype, Ryan’s Ray plays the serious, thoughtful counterpart holding up the sky while Bernard parties on, oblivious to his entreaties. The three of them are able to generate real affection, a canny trick in the film’s short time frame and one that leaves no hangover after the credits have rolled.
It also helps that they’re supported by some exceedingly promising production work. Gosia Zur’s cinematography almost deserves an acting credit of its own, bringing Dublin to life through neon lights reflected in rain soaked streets and puddles, each passing in a whirl of never-ending colour, heightening the senses as the characters spiral into altered states of consciousness. For a first attempt it’s frighteningly good and some clever editing, courtesy of Aidan Quigley, spaces out these sequences in a way that’s reflective of a continuous dance playlist, each moment containing the next as much as leading into it. Although dominant, the neo-house music of Monged never feels contrived and only ever enhances the rush of images; never does it seek to replace them and, joyously, never does it strive to make its audience feel disorientated, the hackneyed trick of drug films.
But not all is quite so seamless. A spectacularly misjudged performance by Joe Rooney as Corkfella confuses more than amuses and is probably responsible for the film’s somewhat odd marketing as a comedy; granted there is a lightness to its touch, but what comedy there is of Monged is dry, never slapstick and never does it detract from its humanness. As it stands, these scenes are jarring, neither fitting nor befitting what comes before or after. Fortunately, they don’t really detract from the rest either, leaving Monged a night out with only happy memories the next day.