Newspapers mostly paint the same picture of the young people of Ireland. A lost generation, with no prospects, living with their parents all through their twenties. Those same parents had far more opportunities than those of their children, and now the youth are a burden, remaining directionless, unable to earn an honest living. Into this conversation comes Donal Foreman’s Out of Here, the story of Ciaran, a young Dubliner who has just returned home from his emigration to Australia.
The film is about aimlessness, and the way in which Foreman sticks religiously to this theme may be Out of Here’s greatest weakness. Ciaran spends the film trying to recover the life he once had, a futile task, and one the audience, the director and the character himself all know is futile. And yet we watch as he goes through the motions, trying to reconnect with his ex-girlfriend, floating through the old art circles of his ex-college mates. The question is posed: “what is there to do for an average young man in Dublin?” but it never attempts to answer it, which doesn’t make for the most satisfying of viewing experiences. It’s as if Ikiru ended before Takashi Shimura decides to build the playground.
However there are many things this film does extremely well. The character interactions feel like fly-on-the-wall documentaries, so naturalistic is the dialogue. The characters talk over each other like a Robert Altman picture, and yet each scene clearly has a purpose in the overall portraiture of Ciaran. Whenever an emotionally honest sentiment threatens to appear, he parries it with a joke. The characters in Out of Here pretend their overpowering sense of loneliness doesn’t exist whenever they drift into one another’s company. It’s a spot-light shining directly onto an uncomfortable yet dominating aspect of the Irish character.
This keen observational eye is what makes Out of Here noteworthy. If Ciaran doesn’t find a niche for himself, the film tells us, it’s largely his own fault, not that of the banks or the government or his parents who told him he was special. The one story he recounts of his time abroad is one of disillusionment, his being robbed by someone he thought he was making a meaningful connection with. He is incapable of looking beyond his situation, and he sees his own mundanity reflected back at him in the eyes of the people who know who he is. This quiet tragedy feels desperately familiar, and while Foreman doesn’t feel the need to give us the cure to this ailment of pessimism, he captures the symptoms of it masterfully. Out of Here is released exclusively at the IFI, Dublin on Friday 07 November 2014. Watch the trailer now.