Jack Parry Jones and Christy O’Donnell play two brothers who end up making their way from their home in Shetland to Glasgow, both with very different agendas. They meet a pretty young woman (Tara Lee) on their travels and things start to get complicated. Or maybe they’re actually getting simpler, if only the boys can look at things from the right angle.

Directed by Philip John, Moon Dogs is a bit of a standard independent drama, in many ways. You get the two male leads dealing with their issues (in this case the issue is rejection). You get an attractive, free-spirited, woman who doesn’t want to conform to social conventions. There are some moments of humour, some moments of mild tension, and moments that offer up a spoonful of love to make the main characters optimistic, if only for a short time. And there’s a decent, albeit quite unique, soundtrack.

What you also get, however, is a decent script, written by Derek Boyle and Raymond Friel, peppered with some very amusing exchanges, and three great performances from the leads that make the characters feel a bit more real and worth rooting for, when they could so easily have become a walking mass of cliches and irritations. This is particularly the case with O’Donnell, who somehow makes his quiet, sensitive, artistic soul feel like more than just one big emo-by-numbers depressive. There are also decent supporting turns from Claire Cage, Jamie Sives, Kate Bracken, Denis Lawson, Shauna Macdonald, and Niall Greig Fulton (who, I believe, has some watertight contract that locks him in with a role in every movie filmed in Scotland).

On the technical side of things, sound and picture are both good enough to keep this from feeling like the relatively low-budget movie it clearly is. There are plenty of fine shots of Scottish countryside throughout, and some nice cinematography peeks through in between the more intimate character interactions.

Overall, the content is unoriginal, the climax is slightly underwhelming, and the joy is in the journey rather than seeing how the characters have changed by the end of the film. But that didn’t stop me from really liking this. I’m not sure if I’ll ever see it again, but I will keep my eyes open for a wider release. And I might even pick it up whenever it ends up on a shiny disc.

Moon Dogs is showing at 2050 on 17th June, and 1540 on 18th June, both screenings at Cineworld.

DIRECTOR: PHILIP JOHN
WRITER: DEREK BOYLE, RAYMOND FRIEL
STARS: JACK PARRY JONES, TARA LEE, CHRISTY O’DONNELL, CLAIRE CAGE, JAMIE SIVES
RUNTIME: 90 MINS APPROX
COUNTRY: UK

Film Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

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