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The Brothers McMullen Review

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Three New York Irish Catholics attempt to deal with the various romantic problems thrown up by their personal and religious baggage.

★★★★★

Written, directed by and starring an erstwhile US TV entertainment show's production assistant and shot at the weekend in his mum's house, this is yet another no-budget success story, having won the Sundance Festival Grand Jury Prize. And deservedly so.

      The three siblings in question are New York Irish Catholics, thrown together for a few months in their childhood home. The film concentrates on their attempts to deal with the various romantic problems thrown up by their personal and religious baggage. Youngest brother Patrick is just out of college, a by-the-book God-fearing Catholic; middle sibling Barry is a boho scriptwriter for whom any relationship that lasts longer than one date constitutes a serious commitment; Jack is the eldest, happily married until he's tempted by the offer of a sex-only affair. 



      Despite its twentysomething preoccupations, its no expense-spent finances and young, inexperienced cast, this has none of the slacker affectations of, say, Clerks. Instead, it's a surprisingly mature film resting entirely on the quality of the script and performances. It's funny, penetrating and coolly cynical in its handling of the boys’ mounting emotional crises, without ever falling into the melodramatic depths of soap opera. Love, Barry explains to his kid brother, is merely an excuse for women to drag men into the emasculating, stifling conspiracy of marriage. This is a subtle and witty film with more to say to the so-called “Generation X” audience than all of Hollywood's mainstream efforts put together. When Burns gets enough money to shoot a movie outside his mum's living room, there's no telling what he'll be capable of.  

This is a subtle and witty film with more to say to the so-called "Generation X" audience than all of Hollywood's mainstream efforts put together.