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Ailsa

Paddy Breathnach

Adapted by Joe O’Connor from his own short story in the True Believers collection, Ailsa is a moody, highly atmospheric picture of obsession and voyeurism. It features Brendan Coyle in a remarkably well-judged performance as Miles Butler, a Dubliner who is shocked at the discovery of the electrocuted body of his landlord, and who becomes insatiably curious when a young American woman, Campbell Rourke (Juliette Gruber) moves into the deceased man’s flat on the floor below Miles and his girlfriend.
When Miles accidentally takes one of Campbell’s letters by mistake, he opens it and sets in motion a sequence of events which involves him taking every single item of her daily mail, to the point where he even pays some bills for her. Under the cool, schematic direction of Paddy Breathnach, this unlikely behaviour takes on a chilling credibility and an accumulating tension which is not released until the significance of the film’s title is revealed towards the end.

It terms of style and tone, Ailsa is a truly European Irish film and the influence of Kieslowski, in particular, is evident in the precise visual design of the film and the fluid, precisely measured moves of Cian De Buitlear’s roaming camera. Produced by Ed Guiney for the Dublin-based Temple Films, it marks a confident and auspicious feature debut for Paddy Breathnach, who previously collaborated with Joe O’Connor on the award-wining short film A Stone of the Heart.

Ireland, 1994.
78 mins.)

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