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ADAM & PAUL
UK: Guerilla Films
Cast: Tom Murphy, Mark O'Halloran, Gavin Dowdal, Luke Keeler, Michael McElhatton, Laurie Morton, Sylvia Murray, Gary Egan, Deirdre Molloy, Mary Murray, Paul Roe, Thomas Farrell, Virginia Cole, Ian Cregg, Tomas O Suilleabhain, Ion Caramitru, Louise Lewis, David Johnstone, Gerry Moore, Anthony Morris, Joe Hanley, Jim Murray, Ray Meade, David Herlihy, Eamonn Hunt, Ger Carey, Alan Carroll, Anita Reeves
Director: Lenny Abrahamson
UK: 86 mins
UK Certificate: 15 contains very strong language and hard drug use
UK Release Date: 3 June 2005
Friends since they were small boys, Adam and Paul - and we never learn which is which - have withered into two hapless, 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.
Stylistically, ADAM & PAUL is a cold, contemporary take on classic, physical comedy. Thematically, it is a minimal fairytale about two baffled, vulnerable children in the grip of forces too powerful for them to handle; vulnerable, lost, sometimes pathetically optimistic, but always profoundly damaged. ADAM AND PAUL is not a film without hope; it is a tender, unsentimental and very funny testament to the persistence of the human spirit in even the most damaged and marginal of people.
The film opens with Adam and Paul waking up broke and sick in the middle of a field with Adam glued to a mattress. Something tells us that this is not going to be their day. They make their way into town via a run in with a terrified drug dealer in the Ballymun flats, a hasty exit from the top floor of a bus, a long trudge down the median of a dual carriageway and an unfortunate incident with a moped. Wandering through Stephen's Green they meet their old gang who are drinking cans and having 'a little picnic for the kiddies'. Feeling distinctly unwelcome, the boys sit down to a roasting from the terrifying Marian and Orla who are furious with them for not turning up that morning to the 'month's mind' of Matthew, the boy's best friend and Orla's brother. Marian, backed up by Wayne (her brother), warns them to 'stay away from me sister' - that's Janine an ex-user and the boy's shared girlfriend. To the disgust of Wayne and the girls, Georgie, a very dim and very alcoholic separated father, lets slip that there is a 'do' on for Matthew that night in the Bunker pub.
From here we follow the boys as they wander aimlessly around the city looking for 'what's his name' - a possible contact that might, just vaguely, be able to sort them out with a fix. They have a 'who's on first'-style misunderstanding with a boy in a sleeping bag who thinks they're looking for someone called 'Clank' who he decides owes them money; Paul hurts his hand in a half-assed attempt at a smash and grab; they get chucked out of a Cafe for trying to steal a handbag and Paul gets barred from a shop for 'feelin' bread'. Having had a bizarre argument with a man they mistake for a Romanian, and failing to get anywhere in their search for drugs, they finally, and in the face of Wayne's dire warning, make their way to Janine's. She's not there but the door's open. The boys are just about to steal her telly, which according to Paul is 'askin' to be robbed', when we hear the sound of a baby crying. Janine returns home to find the boys gently holding and whispering to the baby - this is the most tender moment in the film, and the one which best reveals the boys' residual humanity. They leave Janine with the promise that they will see her again that night in the Bunker.
The tenderest moment in the film is followed immediately by the harshest. The boys mug a kid with Down's syndrome. This is a very important scene. There is no violence but the scene shows just how cruel Adam and Paul are capable of being. Night falls and the boys are wretched - partly because of what they have just done and partly because they are now in full-blown withdrawal. Just when it looks like things can't get any worse ... they do. Out of nowhere Paul gets a smack in the mouth. It's Clank and he's angry; 'What are yous two doing going around sayin' as how I owe yis money ...'. As reparation for the hassle they have caused him, Clank ropes the boys in to act as lookouts while he robs a garage. This proves to have been rather a bad decision on Clank's part. Back in town, and one car crash later the boys are in bits. Sitting on an old cooker down a back lane Paul gives the junky equivalent of a Shakespearean soliloquy - imploring the heavens, 'just a bit of fuckin' luck is all'; lo and behold his prayers are answered in the form of a wide screen TV. But luck, in the world of ADAM & PAUL, is not something that stays around for very long. An attempt to sell the TV to a broken-down, alcoholic fence back in Ballymun ends in disaster and the boys, now utterly beaten, are right back where they started. But wait ... just at the moment when they give up, resigned to absolute failure, suffering and death the heavens open and the gods of film supply them with two very large bags of heroin.
Smacked out of their heads, they float back into town via a beautifully shot lie down on the Millennium bridge, ending up, by sheer chance, in front of the very Bunker pub where the clan is gathering. Will they find some peace, some salvation inside? Will they get back with Janine (or will she fall foul of temptation). There is, for a few moments, a flicker of hope. But hope, in the world of Adam and Paul is not something that stays around for very long.