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An Everlasting Piece

Starring Barry McEvoy, Brian F. O'Byrne, Anna Friel and Billy Connolly; Colum Convey
Screenplay by Barry McEvoy
Directed by Barry Levinson

IN SHORT: A just OK comedy with message attached. [Rated R for language. 102 minutes]

It is one thing to cast a comic actor in a drama. It is quite another thing to cast a comic actor in a comedy in the one unfunny role in the picture. That it is a supporting role has no bearing on the case that An Everlasting Piece, from director Barry Levinson made a major mistake casting comedian Billy Connelly as a mentally deranged hair piece salesman tossed in a Northern Ireland loony bin for scalping four clients. Connelly's rep, as does Levinson's (we're big fans of both) precede 'em. This mistake deadens what is otherwise a gentle comic-drama mish mash.

George (Bryan F. O'Byrne) is a poet. Colm (Barry McEvoy) is dating Bronagh (Anna Friel). Both men chop hair in the Bally-Something-or-other Mental Hospital in Belfast. When the Scalper (Connolly) is detained, they learn that the man held a monopoly on hairpiece sales in Northern Ireland. The entire countryside. With the imagined smell of cold hard cash in their nostrils, the pair convince the inmate to turn over his client list, and then hit the streets looking for the gold paving. Bronagh works the phones and the men come face to face with the most unusual sales calls you could ever imagine, all of 'em based on stories told McEvoy by his real-life barber/ hairpiece salesman dad.

Those sales calls, in and of themselves, are pretty funny and help to illustrate some of the political problems of 1980s Northern Ireland, though the film's resolution (which has something to do with why Catholics can do something but Protestants can't) flew right over our head. We can empathize with and find the humor in scenes involving the Protestant barber selling hair to the IRA, but the film begins to thin (sic) as it moves towards the final point that we didn't follow.

An Everlasting Piece is pleasing enough, we guess, but never reaches the character depth that Levinson moveis tend to. That may be because Levinson didn't write the flick, although McEvoy's script mimics the start funny end dramatic style that Levinson perfected with his Baltimore trilogy of films, best exampled by the one that had the least commercial success, Avalon.

The most interesting we noticed about this flick had to do with some of the edits and filler shots. We don't normally delve into the technical aspects of filmmaking, unless they are so incompetent that they get in the way of telling the story. Early on in A Everlasting Piece there are several bits and pieces that don't make any sense; additional inserts of things like locks snapping shut in car doors when a master scene makes it clear what the action was. Edits that don't contribute to the story. These are not the mark of an established director, so we're wondering if Levinson was lending his talents to a newbie on certain scenes. We have no evidence to say that is so, just a gut feeling. When you rent the tape, 'cuz that's as "high" as the rating is going to go, you can watch and decide for yourself.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to An Everlasting Piece, he would have paid...


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