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July 2010

Holy Water

cast: John Lynch, Cornelius Clarke, Linda Hamilton, Angeline Ball, and Lochlann O'Mearain

director: Tom Reeve

89 minutes (15) 2009
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
Centurion DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
review by Mark West

Holy Water

Kilcoulins Leap was once a thriving spa town in rural Ireland which has long since fallen on lean times, leading it occupants to think seriously of selling up and moving out. Four friends - Gaffer (John Lynch), Sean (Cian Barry), Podger (Cornelius Clarke), and Donal (Lochlann O'Mearain) - are in a ceilidh band, all bachelors, all wanting something more from life but sticking together. So when Sean decides that he's going to leave for England, Podger comes up with a plan, involving deliveries of Viagra that pass through the Leap on their way from the production plant in Derry. After a slightly bungled robbery - and with the intention of making a fortune selling the drug in Amsterdam - the gang decide to store the pills in the local well, until the heat dies down.

The kind of thing you imagine Ealing would make if they were still in operation, this quickly settles - after initially seeming to employ every oirish stereotype going - into a comedy that is equal parts gentle and bawdy. The gang of four play well off each other - especially Clarke's Podger, with O'Mearain very good as the taciturn 'fix-it man' - and are ably supported by a reliable band of (Irish) support, with Susan Lynch superb as Gaffer's level-headed sister.

Her encouragement of Kate the barmaid (Deidre Mullins) to hook up with Sean (who also fancies her) is very nicely played. Angeline Ball, from The Commitments, has grown up very nicely indeed and plays a policewoman, on the trail of the highway robbers. If there is a false note, it's with the US security agents sent in by Pfizer - Linda Hamilton (who hasn't aged at all well), 'Tiny' Lister, and Lisa Catara - the actors do well but seem hopelessly out of place, as if they're present only to help US sales of the film.

Holy Water is ably directed, with a good eye for location and it has a good pace, which is maintained throughout. The bawdy interludes, once the Viagra gets into the local water supply, are generally amusing and nicely played, and almost everyone gets a piece of the action (though one character's apparent homosexual leanings are never mentioned or explored beyond one instance).

There are flaws, of course - the stereotypes I mention above do grate a little initially and there's the obvious question of how the villagers avoided heart attacks (or, at the very least, priapism) from all that Viagra - but if they are going to bother you, this isn't the film for you in the first place. Nicely played, affectionate and lewd, this is an Irish comedy full of heart that delivers the laughs you want from a Brit comedy.

The only extra on my screener copy was a 20-minute 'making of', which was good fun and included the revelation that this very Irish film was made entirely on location in South Devon.



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