Parked is not an easy film to classify. Fundamentally, it is a tale of perseverance and hope, as explored through the relationship of a trio of social outsiders. For a variety of circumstances, the three find themselves not so much living as merely marking time as mainstream society passes them by.
The film stars Colm Meany as Fred Daly, a man who has returned to his native Ireland to find himself homeless. With nowhere else to go, he has had to resort to living in his car, parked in a Dublin sea side car park. An immensely proud and practical man, Fred endeavours to maintain some normality to his life as he endeavours to cope with what appears to be a hopeless situation.
The arrival of Cathal (Merlin’s Colin Morgan) to the car park disrupts and shakes up Fred’s mundane situation and together they form a friendship. As the enthusiastic young man intrudes into Fred’s life, he brings excitement and a shot of youthful optimism despite coming from an arguably more tragic situation himself.
In turn, the two encounter Jules (Milka Ahlroth), a widow who is also stranded in a static situation having failed to move on after her husband’s death. She befriends Fred and becomes a beacon of hope for him.
Providing an uncompromising blend of the tragic and the comic, Parked dances the line but never quite falls into despair. Fred has stopped fighting, trapped both by bureaucracy and by his own pride. He seems to be in danger of accepting his situation, but Cathal’s infectious recklessness inspires him to enjoy life.
Together they do make the oddest of odd couples, yet there is a warmth and believability in their friendship. However, it eventually transpires that despite all the help he has been to Fred, Cathal is on an inevitably destructive path of drug addiction.
Warm, cheeky and wildly charismatic, Morgan proves that his titular role on Merlin has yet to really scratch the surface of his talent. Fans of the actor can expect to see him in a very different light as there are no magic solutions or happy endings to Cathal’s story.
It’s a bold departure for Morgan to a far more adult and challenging role. Freed from the constraints of Merlin’s cosseted family viewing ethos, expect drug-taking, adult language and violence that easily justify the film’s 15 certificate.
Colm Meaney also gives a strong, yet restrained performance. A far cry from his television work too, the role as Fred is the quiet study of a desperate man brought slowly back to life. It’s easy to root for him, as Cathal does, especially in his fledgling relationship with Juliana.
Parked is a bittersweet film, in turns both heart-warming and heartbreaking. While there are a few unsubtle moments, director Darragh Byrne presents strong themes and a wonderfully melancholic score. At times it makes from uneasy viewing, but the central performances are rewarding and well worth it.
Extras: The DVD’s minimal extras feature the theatrical trailer and a montage of behind the scenes footage featuring cast and crew.
Also included are approximately thirty minutes worth of on-set interviews with director Darragh Byrne, as well as the three principal cast members Colm Meaney, Colin Morgan and Milka Ahlroth, with each providing their own perspective on the characters and the story.
Released on DVD on Monday 12th March 2012 by Element Pictures.
Watch the trailer…
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