Film Scouts Reviews

"The Van"

by Leslie Rigoulot

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This is the final chapter of the Barrytown trilogy written by Roddy Doyle, and the second with director Steven Frears at the helm. But don't think you have to run out and watch "The Commitments" and "The Snapper" in order to be able to follow the story. If you enjoy the confidence of the Irish and the have an affinity for soccer, you'll appreciate "The Van". When I saw it at the Cannes Film Festival in 1996, it was a breath of fresh air in the stodgy and artsy world where "The Pillow Book" is viewed as a good movie. Hey, give me a rowdy, solid story with fun characters over Greenaway anytime!

When Bimbo, played by Donal O'Kelly, gets his pink slip from the bakery, he gets a grand idea: to sell fast food from a ramshackled van outside the pubs where everyone watches the soccer matches. Colm Meaney as his best friend, Larry, is welcomed aboard the van as his full partner, leaving behind his unemployment checks. They are not the best entrepreneurs, but the idea is a hot one and the World Cup matches guarantee success. If only Bimbo and Larry's friendship can withstand success. It is Roddy Doyle's gift to be able to get inside of people and make a universal statement using his Irish settings. And it is to our delight that he has been able to make such a tremendous drama. "In Ireland it is impossible to have comedy without tragedy ... or tragedy without comedy." says Brendan O'Carroll. And that pretty well sums up "The Van" philosophy. Rated R, from Fox Searchlight.

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