The thing about attending a film festival, ANY major film festival, is that you see so many films that feel like, well, festival films. They introduce you to some characters, you get a snapshot of their lives, and the ending doesn’t necessarily wrap everything up neatly for you. Sometimes the ending doesn’t even feel like an ending. I’ve watched a hell of a lot of movies that finished on a comma when I was expecting a full stop. You’re Ugly Too is one of those festival films. I liked it, but there’s little else to it that would make me rush to recommend it to anyone.

Aidan Gillen plays a man just out of prison to look after a young relative (Lauren Kinsella). He takes her away to a caravan park, where he then tries to enrol her in a local school and find employment. The twist here is that Gillen isn’t fully free. There’s an appointment scheduled to see how the situation is working out, and if a panel decide against the two staying together then Gillen will be sent back to prison to finish serving his sentence. And that’s it really. Viewers get to see the adult and child figuring one another out, while a neighbouring woman (Erika Sainte) also comes into their life for a little while.

Writer-director Mark Noonan doesn’t do anything majorly wrong here. It’s just a shame that a number of moments feel far too predictable, especially one detail revealed in the third act. To be fair, he does try his best to throw in one or two other surprises in the last reel, but any impact is lost due to the comforting familiarity of the preceding events.

The real positive for the film is the fact that it has a small cast, and most of the script is handled by Gillen and Kinsella. I’ll watch Gillen in anything, and he’s as good as usual here. The pleasant surprise is that young Kinsella is a match for him in every scene that they share together. Sainte does well enough in her performance, and George Pistereanu isn’t too bad either, despite the fact that his character is almost impossible to figure out.

I liked You’re Ugly Too. But I was hoping to like it more. It wouldn’t have taken much to push this up a notch or two either. Heck, just fleshing out a couple of the characters and possibly adding one or two more powerful moments would have still barely taken the runtime up to a full 90 minutes. I’ll keep an eye on future work from Noonan, but he may have to make sure that he keeps getting the best cast possible while attempting to keep improving his writing and directorial skills.

You’re Ugly Too was screened at EIFF 2015.


Film Rating: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

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