Donal (McKenna) is fourteen, and has developed a keen interest in greyhound racing. The owner of the kennel he works for (Stott) has promised him The Mighty Celt, if it can win three races in a row. Meanwhile, Donal's mother (Armstrong) is piecing her life back together, and meets a face form her past (Carlyle).
A boy-dog bonding story set against the backdrop of a post-conflict Northern Ireland, this is notable for the casting of Gillian Anderson as a working-class single mum. While Irish natives may not be fooled, her performance is confident enough to convey one of the film’s better-written roles, a woman marked by the death of her brother and hesitantly shopping for a new father for her son.
But the knowledge of Anderson’s nationality accentuates the artificiality of this Belfast. Robert Carlyle’s ex-IRA man merely pays lip service to his supposed reformation, while young newcomer Tyrone McKenna is ill-equipped to fill the considerable gaps in the script with displays of convincing emotion.
There’s promise in the bursts of dark humour, but these are few and far between, only serving to remind us how much better directors like Ken Loach have dealt with the coming-of-age genre.