Friday, 12 April 2013

(9) Pilgrim Hill (2013)

Pilgrim Hill. Jimmy and Tommy stacking turf.
Piercingly-hurtful Pilgrim Hill is 25 year old director's Gerard Barrett's debut feature film. The film is released in cinemas today, on April 12, a definite one not-to-miss.

Pilgrim Hill tells the story of a middle aged bachelor Jimmy (Joe Mullins), who lives in rural Ireland. After his mother's death, when he was only a child, he started to take care of his family's farm, as well as his father. Uneducated and unmarried, however, a decent man Jimmy spends his monotone days taking care of the cattle and cutting and stacking turf, and from time to time going to the local pub for a pint. 
The film starts off by following Jimmy around his farm, while he fixes up fences, milks the cows, paints the house, the viewer doubtlessly is waiting for something to happen, but nothing is forthcoming. The first hour of the film seems as a documentary, a peek inside a bleak bachelor's life in rural Ireland, with cutting back and forth from his everyday jobs to Jimmy talking into a camera and telling his life story/narrating the film. A bit of a 'sunshine' is brought in by Tommy (Muiris Crowley), Jimmy's friend, who is weary of the situation in the rural side of the country and is full of determination to leave it and go to Dubai or Canada.
As monotone as Jimmy's life is, it is about to take a tough turn for which Jimmy isn't ready.

I was positively surprised, that Barrett didn't try to brake away fromthe  reality of rural life by putting in some a big climactic scene and giving an idealised solution to everyone's bleak lives. The film stayed as dark and doomed as it began. Dictatorially there was a nice touch,  leaving Jimmy's father off-screen all throughout the film, so the viewer can put a face on his/her own burden. After watching the film two days ago in Galway, one sound is still stuck in my head - the sound of a milking machine, which in the film echoed the sound of club music, as well as our own muscle - the heart. Pilgrim Hill depicts the harsh truth, as further and deeper we go into civilisation, the colder and lonelier it becomes. As noted by the director himself at a recent screening in Galway, this coldness and alienation from human communication is subtly showed in the film, when Jimmy goes to the town to sell the milk, and all he is faced with is a machine, instead of human communication.
Barrett made the  film over 7 sunless days with a budget as small as 4500 euros, thus it is easy to forgive a few rough edges in the film.
For Pilgrim Hill, Barrett rightly won IFTA Rising star award, while also winning the Best New Irish Talent Award at the Galway Film Fleadh.
If you can try and go and see this piercingly-hurtful, true-to-life depiction of a lonely man!

You can watch Pilgrim Hill's trailer below:

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