Indie Film Review “Con”



First, the Recap:

When suffering a knockdown blow, it’s imperative you find within yourself the resilience, the mettle, to get back up, face the music, improve yourself, and march on with life. Once these steps have been achieved, however, staying the course and maintaining a level-headed approach to things remains the key. As an example, there is actor and filmmaker Con Keogh (Bertie Brosnan), a young luminary in the industry whose star was nothing but on the rise. This was until having reached the top, ego and alcohol mixed, causing much public outrage at Con’s less than stellar behavior. Having finished a stint in rehab, Con is out and looking to reconnect with his 1st cousin Andy Lannigan (Owen Barton).

Doing just that, Con finds out that Andy, a documentary filmmaker, is desiring to make a film about Con and, ideally, a reunion between him and his 25-years estranged father, Michael Lannigan (Michael J. O’Sullivan). Open to turning over a new leaf and perhaps extending forgiveness to his father after a childhood spent mainly with his theater-based, now deceased mother Joanne (Jean Law). In the meantime, while Con is out getting in touch with old friends like Lor (Laura O’Shea) and his extroverted agent George (Tadhg Hickey), Andy arranges the meet with Michael.  Even with some bumps in the road and worries that Con might relapse, events unfold in a way that looks good for his new start in life, even if so many believe he’s still a lost cause.

Next, my Mind:

There were honestly so many candid, off-the-cuff moments contained within writer/director/producer/co-editor/lead actor Brosnan’s 69-minute indie film effort that I really believed I was watching an actual documentary rather than a film about a filmmaker creating a documentary about a fictional character who seemed so real and relatable in his journey.  This, therefore, is the magic of Brosnan’s project, whose primary themes ultimately focus on the culture of celebrity and the potency of addiction by immersing us into the rehabbed existence of a famous star on the mend physically, spiritually, and mentally. Thanks to the clean, clear, smoothly shot “found footage”, docu-style visuals and the “talking to the camera” execution by the primary characters involved, even including interview footage with an addiction specialist among regular townsfolk, the entire affair is simple, sincere, uncomplicated, and undeniably engaging. It’s not about action, or even blatant, over-exaggerated drama here, but rather a down-to-earth human story creatively molded around a fictional world that can be directly linked to occurrences in our own. On so many levels, isn’t that what independent film is all about?

Brosnan does a wonderfully effective job in his role as Con, a young, still perhaps a little rough around the edges film star and filmmaker whose addictions to rising fame and alcohol land him in rehab. Having learned from the experience, Con aims to do right by taking an almost “12 Steps” approach to his interactions with old friends and, eventually, alienated family, all in hopes of making that fresh start so many in his situation might desire.  Yet, the demons of addiction still haunt him, even if not immediately evident, and it’s that internal struggle that still threatens to send him off the edge again.  But, he holds it together, and watching the character grow up at least a little is satisfying, though how it will all turn out by the finale and beyond is left to conjecture. Brosnan infuses the character with believability, which aids in making it all seem so real, much to his credit. Barton as his 1st cousin Andy is another study in human behavior in the face of both seeing a relative healing their life while facing challenges in his own, which mostly entails getting his film in the can. His “big brother” demeanor around Con is actually quite endearing, as he only desires the best for his cousin in a new lease on things, and the character’s addressing the screen along the way enhances this feeling we get, a credit for Barton’s portrayal of Andy’s persona.

Supporting players are aplenty here, including O’Sullivan as Con’s humble but highly volatile father Michael, Law as Con’s now passed away mother, who’s seen in previous interviews as the astute thespian she was, O’Shea as a longtime friend of Con’s named Lor with whom he shares some conversation with, and Hickey as Con’s very outgoing, outspoken, and self-assured agent George, who still has big plans for his star client–as long as he stays out of trouble. Additional support comes via Cristina Ryan, Karol Mann O’Connor, Sean Lyons, Darragh Mullins, Fiona Kelly, Henry Malachite, and Aidan Jordan, several of whose characters have less than nice sentiments about Con. In total, with its smartly conceived execution, entertaining characters, and relevant social statements it makes about celebrity and addiction, “Con” should stand as a worthy entry to the indie film arena, hopefully appreciated for the sometimes quirky, but always lucid, character-based effort it is.

As always, this is all for your consideration and comment.  Until next time, thank you for reading!



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