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Brendan (Peter MacDonald), a lonely and uptight high school teacher, meets the lively, forcible Trudy (Flora Montgomery) in a pub. She agrees to go out with him to a movie and after some initial setbacks they begin a relationship. While Brendan shares his interests with Trudy (films and choir singing) she shows him how to have fun – and the sex is great. But after a while Brendan starts to get nervous – where does Trudy disappear to every night? Questioning her, he discovers a secret he would never have guessed.

Here’s an interesting take on contemporary male-female relationships. Brendan is a stolid schoolteacher, plump-cheeked and handsome in a prissy way, a fan of old Hollywood movies and Irish tenors. His usual expression is nervously embarrassed, like he’s about to wet his pants. Trudy is an attractive blonde who’s also tough, smart and unconventional: your basic Cameron Diaz equivalent. After these two get together, Brendan spends quite a long period feeling terrified, because he thinks that Trudy is going to castrate him. Not ‘castrate’ meaning symbolically deprive him of his manhood, but literally chop his balls off. You’d think that a comedy written by someone as talented as Roddy Doyle would be a bit more resourceful than this. A long way from the irresistible energy that fuelled The Commitments (the book, not the film) Doyle seems to have resigned himself here to turning out a slack, would-be crowd-pleasing potboiler. He still has a smart, knowing sense of humour, but while some of the jokes catch you by surprise, too many are tired (does anyone still laugh at old ladies swearing?) or slightly and perhaps deliberately off in tone. Mixing up wish-fulfilment daydreams, sex scenes, jokes about the Internet, and references to Iggy Pop or John Wayne, When Brendan Met Trudy has the underpowered rhythm of TV and the unpleasant mindset of a romantic comedy for Tony Blair enthusiasts: mildly edgy and vaguely nostalgic, supposedly offering something for everyone.
Jake Wilson

Roddy Doyle’s novels have been great fodder for filmmakers. The Commitments, The Snapper and The Van have all made successful journeys from the pen of the Irish, Booker prize-winning author to the screen. This time it’s a more direct route. And to prove he’s not one of those authors who grumble under their breath about adaptations—while queuing to bank the proceeds—Doyle wears his cinema-loving heart on his screenplay. His first dedicated film script is spot-the-homage for cinema buffs. It’s an old ploy, but Doyle is cagey enough to make it manifestly self-conscious. ‘And it always rains,’ observes Brendan as the inevitable pathetic fallacy sets in during a temporary squall in the romantic proceedings. Peter McDonald combines smart and bemused in every lost gaze and wry line of a man whose only experience of living with gusto is experienced vicariously at 24 frames a second. He is perfectly cast as a bloke you guess would be likeable if only he could shed that desiccated personality. Enter Flora Montgomery’s Trudy. She is as extroverted and impulsive as he is introverted and intelligent. She picks him up. Then stands him up. Then changes her mind again. And finally proves that a naked rumble tumble with a woman who lives on the edge—of her urges and the law—is the instant catalyst to have a luddite, law-abiding hymn-singer bopping to Iggy Pop, taking a peak at a CD-ROM and getting arrested as a social protester, and maybe worse. Director Walsh’s easy modern portrayal of Dublin and all the cute filmic nods (love those irises) help the charm of a lightweight, yet clever outing that benefits from never taking itself too seriously. Harry and Sally are transformed in more than name by their hop across the Atlantic pond; there’s a pleasing quirkiness that defies the acknowledged influences—right down to a final freeze-frame . . . that isn’t.
Brad Green

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CAST: Peter McDonald, Flora Montgomery, Marie Mullen, Pauline McLynn

DIRECTOR: Kieron J. Walsh

PRODUCER: Lynda Myles

SCRIPT: Roddy Doyle


EDITOR: Scott Thomas

MUSIC: Richard Hartley


RUNNING TIME: 94 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 12, 2001 (Brisbane July 19)

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