Directed by: Robbie Walsh
Written by: Robbie Walsh
It is often clear when a filmmaker truly loves cinema because their own movies become littered with references. Robbie Walsh is one such devotee to cinematic greats, and his indie #mockumentary, S.P.L.I.T certainly contains enough nods of the head to classic crime capers to make Joe Pesci dizzy. However, what’s also interesting about the baggage that Walsh brings to his movie is the troubling reality of rising criminal brutality in Ireland that he has witnessed, and hereby mocks.
Having already read the two-star movie review Hannah Sayer did on S.P.L.I.T a while back (a film critic I hold huge amounts of respect for), I went into this viewing already feeling some kind of anxiety. I am glad to say that whilst I can totally agree with how Hannah felt about the film and can most definitely say this film is going to divide audiences, there is a very enjoyable indie comedy here for those with a certain appetite.
Walsh and co-star David Alexander Roche play two hitmen being followed around by a camera crew. As they journey from job to job and crack wise in their not-exactly-inconspicuous Mercedes Benz, discussing all manner of topics, it becomes clear that these are characters in a moral void - something which the filmmaker was keen to highlight. Numerous shady characters and supposedly people who “had it coming” show up, as our brothers find a variety of ways to off them. The funniest of which involves a 20-ft long piece of rope.
Mockumentaries in themselves are instantly divisive. For everyone who loved and cherished Ricky Gervais’ The Office, we can find an equal number who loathed it. The tonal ambiguity between farce, fact, and fiction means the audience often doesn't know where they stand. It can be uncomfortable. So for a viewer to enjoy the atmosphere of S.P.L.I.T they need to be comfortable with political incorrectness across the board, brutal (if comically funded) violence, central characters that are definitely going to hell, and the shaky camera style that will cause some viewers to spew their lunch.
The #comedy is the crux of the matter. It basically will depend on whether or not you find the lines and subtext funny, or if gags about whether gay people are an ethnic group will be hard viewing for you. Personally, I chuckled immensely at the moment they argued over whether Bourne is better than Bond with a guy they intended to kneecap moments later. This disarming charm was at complete odds with the brutality that I found it compelling and knowing the context of the story enriched my viewing experience.
Walsh is a fantastic on screen presence, operating as the strong silent (compared to Alexander Roche) type whose outrage at the stupidity of his partner is equalled to his dismay at the antics of those he’s paid to kill. David Alexander Roche is phenomenally funny as the dimwitted but equally as dangerous hitman with peacock feathers. His repartee is incredible no matter who is chatting to (or at) and his reckless ignorance became the central focal point for this critic.
This is Spinal Tap meets Goodfellas on a very limited budget, this Irish comedy mockumentary is at once a damning indictment of the violent tendencies arising in communities desperate to remain detached, and a silly buddy movie that gets a lot of mileage from the central duo’s dynamic.