When Brendan Met Trudy

Brendan, a Dublin high school history teacher, lives his life like a movie. When we first meet Brendan, he’s lying face down in a rain-filled gutter. The scene looks familiar. It’s supposed to. It’s the scene that opens “Sunset Boulevard.”


when brendan met trudyWe learn through a voice over that all of this is intentional, then skip back six months to where it all began. “Sunset Boulevard” is but just one of many movies Brendan references in his dull, humdrum life. He uses them to escape the monotony of his reality, where students, teachers and family alike treat him as a second class citizen.

Brendan’s life takes a dramatic turn in “When Brendan Met Trudy,” an outrageous new Irish comedy from first time director Kieron J. Walsh. The second entry in the Shooting Gallery 2001 film series features a wild and wicked screenplay by Roddy Doyle where the most unexpected things happen. Featuring truly original and inspired characters, “When Brendan Met Trudy” is one of the season’s best surprises.

Doyle’s first original screenplay is filled with incredible whimsy, walking a thin line between reality and fantasy without missing a step. The author of the Barrytown Trilogy (The Commitments, The Snapper, The Van) writes from experience, grounding the film’s fantasy with a reality that only comes from someone who has lived it. Perhaps that is why we have no problem buying into the premise.

Think of “When Brendan Met Trudy” as a film within a film. Leading man Brendan knows where real life leaves off and film fantasy begins. He just prefers the fake reality. You can’t blame him. His students ridicule him. Other teachers talk about him in front of his face. Except for his mother, his family treats him like dirt. He gets more respect from John Wayne than his peers.

Then Brendan meets Trudy. She’s a lovely lass, and Brendan immediately takes a shining to her. She claims to be a Montessori teacher, an irony not lost on Brendan. They’re a perfect fit, and it’s not long before Brendan and Trudy are doing the horizontal mattress mambo. Brendan couldn’t be happier, but his happiness is short lived when he suspects that Trudy is a serial mutilator who has been severing men from their joysticks.

Imagine how relived Brendan is to learn that Trudy isn’t what he suspects, but a common thief. Now that he can remove his hands from his crotch, Brendan embraces Trudy’s lifestyle. It’s not long before he becomes Clyde to her Bonnie, using the adrenaline rush to improve their sex life. The once shy Brendan begins to open up, unafraid to say and do whatever he pleases.

Peter McDonald plays Brendan with such empathy you never feel sorry for him. It’s a marvelous performance, one filled with wide eyed innocence and devilish delight. Watching McDonald go from shy, repressed Brendan to the assured, cocky Clyde is a pleasure. When he summons up enough courage to sing in public, you’re worried that he will make a fool of himself.

Nothing could be father from the truth. Clyde relishes in the moment, and through his utter lack of humiliation we come to respect him. Brendan is not a doormat, a fact not lost on Trudy. Flora Montgomery is a total delight as Trudy, a strong woman who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to take it. When she sets her sites on Brendan, we know he has little choice in the matter.

Montgomery’s spirit is infectious. Whenever she’s on the screen the film sparkles. The wild abandon she brings to her sex scenes with McDonald make them both sexy and priceless. So are her ideas about teaching the upper class a lesson, such as demanding that Brendan defecate on someone’s carpet during a robbery. Just the sight of McDonald squatting over the carpet is worth the price of admission.

Yet the film has so much more to offer. Director Walsh always keeps things light and breezy. Even at its most twisted, you can’t help but muster a smile. My favorite scene has Brendan squaring off against an obnoxious student in the hall, not only trumping the student’s insult, but doing so in such a cruel and heartless way you can’t help but laugh.

Walsh sees the film as an homage which never takes itself too seriously. The film benefits from a colorful supporting cast and a sense of humor that frequently comes out of nowhere. Pay attention to the background and you will discover some clever jokes. Movie marquees that tell the truth. Vintage movie clips that aren’t so vintage.

Wrapped up in a nice, tight, pretty package, “When Brendan Met Trudy” is the perfect cure for the blues. I laughed a lot, and wanted to see the film again. I probably missed some of the jokes, but the real joke will be on you if you miss this delightfully offbeat comedy.

IRISH STEWEDBrendan Meets Trudy in Outrageous Romantic Comedy

WHEN BRENDAN MET TRUDY

Peter McDonald, Flora Montgomery, Marie Mullen, Pauline McLynn, Don Wycherley, Maynard Eziashi in a film directed by Kieron J. Walsh. Rated R. 90 Minutes.

LARSEN RATING: $6



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