Aye, and there probably aren't enough coming-of-age movies set on the Emerald Isle, if ye ken what I'm saying. But, fair and here comes Turning Green, which with a crass and pure heart provides ye with some charming little laughs - sure and enough more than I be feeling I deserve.
The set-up involves a pair of Irish brothers, Pete, a wee-one of about eleven years, and his recalcitrant 16-year-old brother James, fresh from their birthplace in the United States. You see, things didn't work out with their immigrant parents, so the boys are shipped back to Eire to live with their three kooky aunts. Oh, but the elder doesn't like it, scheming about all sorts of ways to earn enough dosh to get back to the states - that is, when he isn't polishing the bishop to lingerie advertising. What's a lad to do, then? Well, turn to crime of course, first collecting for a bookie, then illegally importing porno mags. Aye, yet it's never that easy, is it?
But first things first, despite what ye be thinking from the cover, this is not a Timothy Hutton starring vehicle, despite having his fine and handsome mug plastered large on the cover. Hutton plays a relatively minor supporting role, Bill the Breaker, that of the real muscle behind Bill the Bookie's gambling racket. Sporting a half-hearted accent, scruffy beard, and seeming perpetually drunk, Hutton seems merely to be making a little dosh of his own here, nothing more. The real show belongs to the brothers, foolishly trying to manipulate their shillelagh-wielding contemporaries with a little American sass.
A pleasant mix of crime caper chiaroscuro and coming-of-age humor (with an emphasis on coming - wink, wink) creates the perfect atmosphere for a light, barely wistful viewing experience, tempered by a dash of worldly cynicism. Donal Gallery as James manages the humor and salty bits perfectly. He's affable and appears entirely in control, (except when fists and bullets fly) occupying the role of narrator/protagonist with remarkable assurance. Providing a dash of pathos minus cloying sentimentality, James' lisping little brother Pete (Killian Morgan) is a calm anchor as he trails his brother on his criminal way. Even the Aunts are quietly funny without being over-the-top. Only Hutton seems needlessly beamed in from another world, in a role that is much better suited for an unknown.
Charming, witty, and with a touch of danger, Turning Green aims modestly to be a coming-of-age movie with a little twist. Refreshingly, it lacks overt sentimentality, instead substituting a little raunchy humor and a healthy dose of cynicism about our place in the world. As James seems in part to blindly pursue his somewhat arbitrary goal, it's clear that only when he defines success will he be satisfied with it.
Turning Green turns in a fairly standard widescreen presentation, enhanced for 16 X 9 televisions. The image is acceptably sharp and clear, with average detail levels and nice rich colors. In fact opening scenes during which XXX narrates his apathy towards Ireland are really beautiful. Overall, this DVD's visual quality isn't spectacular, but certainly fine for a rental.
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound is perfectly fine, with restrained activity in the mix and decent range. Frequent guitar-based folk rock often drives the narrative along a bit, and is mixed well up front, serving its purpose without masking dialog. Accents are thick, but not terribly hard to discern, and are also mixed well.
Extras are limited to Trailers and standard issue things like English and Spanish Subtitles.
So, here's a coming-of-age story that won't have you gagging, crying, or anything like that. Instead, you'll find a rather pleasant date-night rental, with a little bit of crime, amusing growing-up sex jokes, and a nicely realistic attitude towards life, family, and the reality of dreams and aspirations. A bare-bones release marks this as a Rent It option.
- Kurt Dahlke
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