Here is a Hidden Movie Gem courtesy of Lydia Mulvey:
Title: Adam and Paul
Written By: Mark O’Halloran
Starring: Mark O’Halloran and Tom Murphy
Director: Lenny Abrahmson
Plot Summary: This movie follows a day in the life of two Dublin heroin addicts, Adam and Paul. Adam is the taller and slightly smarter of the two while Paul is his sidekick. Since they were small boys, Adam and Paul have withered into two hopeless, desperate Dublin junkies, tied together by habit and necessity. A stylized, downbeat comedy, the film follows the pair through a single day, which, like every other, is entirely devoted to the business of scrounging and robbing money for drugs.
The difference today is that Adam and Paul, already near rock bottom, have finally run out of luck, credit and friends.
Why I Think This Movie Is A Hidden Gem: Written by and starring Mark O’Halloran as Adam and the wonderful Tom Murphy (who died in 2007 at the age of 39) as Paul, the movie is set in contemporary Dublin, Ireland and tells the story of two hapless and wretched heroin addicts as they try to get through a day that’s filled with petty crime, vicious thugs and the endless, desperate search for their next fix.
Sounds bleak. Well, it is. Director Lenny Abrahmson expertly paints a grim picture of drug addicts in a capital city but what sets this film apart from the usual depressing, hard-hitting fare is the relationship between the two men as they stagger from mishap to mishap, dragging chaos and destruction in their wake.
Adam is the brains of the operation and Paul, as his sidekick, is the heart. They are two sides of the same coin and without each other, they wouldn’t survive. Spiky and cynical Adam is routinely frustrated by Paul’s stupidity and recklessness but he provides a sounding board for Adam, a mate who brings meaning to his empty and hopeless life. In Adam, the childlike Paul finds someone who can take care of him, because he himself is simply not up the job.
There is an almost Beckett-like flavor to the tone. Adam and Paul are a sort of 21st Century Vladimir and Estragon, waiting endlessly for their lives to start. Or end.
The acting is top notch (particularly Tom Murphy as Paul and Louise Lewis as Janine) and the script and direction are top drawer. This movie grips your emotions and doesn’t let go even after the final haunting image has played out. At once grim, heart-breaking, hysterically funny, violent, sweary and affecting, Adam and Paul shows the dark underbelly of Dublin’s serious drug problem but does so in a way using characters that audiences can, if not relate to, at least invest emotionally in.
My Favorite Moment In The Movie: Completely down on their luck, our two heroes go to visit Janine, a friend who has recently got herself clean. Janine’s not there but the front door is left open. They go inside and find Janine’s baby in a cot. They pick up the baby and spend a few moments cuddling it and cooing over it. Janine comes home, sees the two men and greets them like the old friends they are. The scene is dreamy, heightened, almost stylized. And not real. This is only the scenario Adam and Paul imagine happening.
What really happens is that Janine comes home to find these two filthy, drugged-up guys in her house. She’s not best pleased and wants them to leave.
I love this scene because there’s a fairytale quality to the “dream” sequence. The lighting is beautiful. The emotion is palpable. These three people love each other. They’ve got a history together. Then we get a sharp 180 degree shift into the harshness of the “real” scene that follows and it simply and effectively shows the contrast between how Adam and Paul view the world versus how the world views them.
My Favorite Dialogue In The Movie: This snatch of dialogue is part of a longer exchange between Adam, Paul and a Bulgarian man they encounter, who they first mistake as Romanian.
PAUL: It’s just like… Bulgaria is a shithole.
BULGARIAN MAN: No, it is not.
PAUL: No but, in comparison, like…
BULGARIAN MAN: In comparison with what?
PAUL: Well… Dublin…
BULGARIAN MAN: You fucking Irish. You think I’m going fucking crazy? You listen to me, now. Bulgaria is not a shithole. Beautiful. It is beautiful. And now Dublin, it is the shithole. Full of liars and maniacs and fucking Romanians.
ADAM: Yeah well, why are you here so?
BULGARIAN MAN: Because… I have to leave Sofia…
PAUL: Oh right.
PAUL: Was she pregnant?
BULGARIAN MAN: What? (laughs) You fucking crazy, stupid Irish. Why am I here? Did you ever ask yourself the same question? Why are you here, huh? Why the fuck are you here?
Key Things You Should Look For When Watching This Movie
The brilliant locations, including the Millennium bridge over the River Liffey, where Adam and Paul go to shoot up.
The film really captures the clear and lucid sunlight that Dublin gets during Spring and Autumn. It can make the city appear simultaneously surreal and hyper-real.
The engaging character moments that make these guys so believable and heart-breaking, including a tiny skit with a missing straw from a milk carton, being super-glued to a mattress in the opening scene and how, just when you think things can’t get worse for Adam and Paul, they do, culminating in a wretched out-pouring of grief while sat atop an old kitchen appliance in an alleyway.
You can see the movie online for free here.
Thanks, Lydia! To show our gratitude for your guest post, here’s a dash of creative juju for you. Whoosh!
Tomorrow: Another Hidden Movie Gem!