- Niamh Muldowny
In the constant stream of new content added to Netflix, it’s easy to lose out on true gems like Handsome Devil. The film, directed by John Butler, closed DIFF in 2016 with a sold out screening and absolutely charmed the audience. The movie follows Ned (Fionn O’Shea) as he returns to his rugby obsessed boarding school for yet another year of torment, and the unlikely friendship he forms with new roommate Conor (Nicholas Galitzine).
Fresh talent shines in this film through its young protagonists. O’Shea inhabits his role of the outsider well and gains both the audience’s respect and sympathy. The choice to have the film narrated through the conceit of an essay competition that Ned enters is also a clever way to invite the audience into his headspace. However, while the young actors’ talent is impressive, it is Andrew Scott’s performance that steals the show. His nuanced portrayal of a man battling two identities warrants rewatching if just to track his character progression through subtle choices in body language.
Although Handsome Devil, might seem to be a simplistic high school drama, this movie oozes charm and takes a very modern and very Irish approach to the genre. Absolutely earning its title of Netflix Gem.
buster’s mal heart
- By Mia Sherry
While Netflix’s catalogue of indie-flicks leaves a lot to be desired, Buster’s Mal Heart is a hidden gem amongst the rest. A 2017 mystery surrealist film directed by Sarah Adina Smith and featuring a truly stellar performance from Rami Malek, it’s Mr. Robot as you’ve never seen him before. Told in three parts, with three different characters- an eccentric mountain man, a hard-working father who works all-nighters at a ramshackle motel and a drifter stranded in the middle of the ocean. The film centres on the tragedy that unfolds when a conspiracy theorist (DJ Qualls) visits Jonas (Malek) at the cusp of the new millennium. Taking the idea of ‘heartbreak’ in its most literal form, and illustrated with the most amazing cinematography from Shaheen Seth, it charts the emotional, physical and mental strain modern day life can have on us, as it’s seen through the eyes of Jonas, Buster and Jonah.
It’s easy to be led astray by the calls of ‘pretentious!’ this might garner (I speak from personal experience), but this isn’t just a film for hipsters trying to be cool. It genuinely is one of the most humane films out there, and had it been picked up by a bigger studio, I guarantee it would have been an awards season contender. It’s about what we love most; love and loss, reality and rarity in a world where the fantastic and the familiar collide.
- By Ren O’Hare
If you feel like witnessing an inexhaustible range of human love, Sense8 is the show for you. It’s a show that has crawled into my heart, one that reminds me that “the world is made up of brotherhood” (to paraphrase a song central to the show, 'What's Up' by 4 Non Blondes). Sense8 follows the stories of eight individuals across the world, from India to the US to Iceland to Kenya, as they discover their psychic connection with one another. They fall in and out of each other's lives, sometimes consciously, mostly by accident. These eight gather against a sinister corporation that seeks to terminate all sensates, worldwide. The show’s creators, the Wachowskis, have reshaped the face of sci-fi once again, after their iconic film The Matrix . In Sense8, they use sci-fi as a means of exploring human existence. They show the nuanced experiences of their connected lives, celebrating the small parts of being human. It is full of such genuine optimism, and depicts the lives of those who are not usually depicted on screen with a diverse cast. Everything exists on a spectrum, from the sensates differing awareness of the connections they harbour with one another, to the levels of their closeness; from their capabililities, to their sexualities and genders.
All the central eight are known to be, or are implied to be, queer to one degree or another. Hyper-masculinity and queerness are not opposing opposites in this show, but can exist simultaneously within single characters. It's refreshing for the overriding feeling of a show to be that of love, for oneself, and by extension those around you. Upon watching the last ever episode, this John Steinbeck quote came to my mind as I sobbed (this show never fails to make me happy sob): “it is true that we are weak and sick and ugly and quarrelsome, but if that is all we ever were, we would millenniums ago have disappeared from the face of the earth.” This show will hopefully make you feel seen, or at the very least show you it’s possibility. Humans are hopeful more often than fearful. At least, that’s what I hope.
- Eavan Noonan
Romantic comedies have become the subject of criticism from many for being too formulaic. However, one movie that defies this convention in a delightful way is Definitely, Maybe; a sardonic, clever and completely charming 2008 film that has recently been added to Netflix. Ryan Reynolds plays Will Hayes, a recently divorced businessman who spends the movie explaining his past love life to his daughter Maya, played by Abigail Breslin. What many movies fail to do, writer/director Adam Brooks achieves here thrice. He presents three believable and charming love stories, helped in large part by their leading ladies Elizabeth Banks, Rachel Weisz and Isla Fisher. By utilising clever narrative tools, Brooks defies the conventions of the genre, jumping back and forth from past to present and leaving both Maya and the audience in the dark about which of these women he eventually marries and which one he may still love. By concentrating on the importance of timing, not romance, Brooks really presents a rather practical love story, and in fact the atypical third act grand romantic gesture backfires spectacularly on Will. The movie also follows the political highs and low of 1990s America, seeing Will’s youthful idealism and belief in a government dashed by the various controversies suffered by his icon: Bill Clinton. Definitely, Maybe is a clever take on the genre that celebrates love while rooting it firmly in reality.