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Lines of ketamine, pumping dance music, estranged brothers and a wild weekend in Dublin city

A new movie takes place over a single weekend in Dublin.

Kirwan as Jason in Dublin Oldschool
Kirwan as Jason in Dublin Oldschool
Image: Element Pictures

MASSIVE LINES OF ketamine, empty beer cans used as ashtrays, scaldy sessions, pumping house music, running from the gardaí, heroin addicts sleeping in lanes.

These are some of the scenes you’ll be treated to when watching new Irish movie Dublin Oldschool, which is released next week.

The movie follows wannabe DJ Jason through a single, drug-fuelled weekend in Dublin as he navigates club nights, house parties, scrapes with the gardaí, all the while longing for his ex-girlfriend and annoying his mates.

Along the way, he reconnects with his estranged brother Daniel (played by Ian Lloyd Anderson) – a homeless heroin addict living on the streets.

Jason does all of this while high on all sorts of drugs, and the audience isn’t spared from experiencing every pill-dropping, line snorting high as well as every passing out, puking-down-a-lane low.

Dublin Oldschool is adapted from the two-man play of the same name, which starred Kirwan and Anderson as Jason and Daniel, but also a whole host of other assorted characters.

Heavily influenced by Mark O’Rowe’s (who turns up in the movie) 1999 play Howie the Rookie, it is a feat of fast-paced linguistic exuberance and imagination, and was received well by critics and audiences alike.

Kirwan – who’s probably best known as the man behind last year’s Heartbreak video and the star of RTÉ’s Sarah and Steve tv show (he also had a fiery appearance recently on the Late Late Show) – co-wrote the script with frequent collaborator Dave Tynan (who also directed the movie).

Still-4-1030x579 Daniel and Jason meet in town. Source: Element Pictures

It is both men’s first movie, and the pair had a job to try to translate that frenetic, energetic stage performance to the big screen.

The movie retains a lot of the dialogue of the play, but it’s a different beast in many other ways, with significant changes to the story and a fleshing out of all of the characters.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie last week, Kirwan said he wanted to make a movie that captured the underground drug and music scene in Dublin, which he felt had never been explored properly before.

“I think any time anybody talks about drugs in Ireland it’s always this kind of cautionary tale, it’s written from the outside in about how drugs destroy lives,” Kirwan said, but he wanted to show a different type of movie that explored youth culture and drug taking in that context.

“It was like that I’ve never seen a Dublin one done before,” he said.

But this is something that a lot of people take every weekend, you know what I mean? And nothing happens they kind of wake up and get on with their lives

Like much of the work Kirwan and Tynan have done together, the movie is bound to resonate with a certain generation of people.

Anyone who knows what a Blue Ghost is, or has found themselves talking to strangers at a rave at 6 o’clock in the morning, or anyone who’s gone to District 8 or Hanger or weekend-long house parties, is bound to recognise a lot in this movie.

The two men have a knack for tapping into the cultural zeitgeist and capturing the mood of Dublin city.

People will remember 2012′s Just Saying video – written and directed by Tynan and starring Kirwan, walking through a dark Dublin city deep in the recession, reflecting on a mixed love and for the place.

Source: davetynan/YouTube

Cautionary tale 

Like with Just Saying, from the alleyways off the North Quays to the bars of Camden Street – Dublin city is one of the main characters of Dublin Oldschool.

But whereas Just Saying was dark, isolated, in this movie it’s a bank holiday weekend – the bars and clubs are packed, the streets are full of excess.

But while Dublin Oldschool is a celebration of the city’s drug taking youth subculture, underpinning the entire thing is an emotional story of addiction and familial breakdown.

The relationship between Jason and his brother Daniel is what gives the movie its heart, and the scenes between the two exist almost separately to the other action, as though they are dream sequences.

Anderson – who played close to 20 characters in the play – plays only Daniel this time round, and is able to focus a lot more in portraying the character, which he does brilliantly.

The other characters are played by a host of different actors, including Séana Kerslake and Sarah Greene.

Still-12-687x1030 Sarah Greene as Lisa. Source: Element Pictures

As Jason goes through his weekend, becoming increasingly drug-addled, Daniel becomes more lucid, and the scenes with the two brothers grow in intensity.

While Kirwan wants to avoid the “cautionary tale” morlaising, the brothers’ relationship and Jason’s descent throughout the movie show a darker side to drug taking and addiction.

“But actually the failure of [Jason] to see his brother in himself, so you know he’s a person, he’s an addict and often addicts upset the balance of their own life but then the life of everybody around them kind of like a pebble in a pond kind of thing,” said Kirwan.

“And we’re seeing him not on any weekend, on a very specific weekend which is towards the end of his drug taking.

And you see that actually how people are with him, they’re testy with him, and they’re aggravated with him, which happens when you’ve kind of burnt all your bridges, or you’re just about to burn all your bridges.
A movie about the city, youth culture, drugs, family and addiction, Dublin Oldschool is bound to hit home for a lot of people.
Dublin Oldschool is released in cinemas on 29 June

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About the author:

Cormac Fitzgerald

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