I’m in Dublin for a weekend, primarily to see Rammstein do their first ever concert in Ireland. This visit coincided with the end of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival (JDIFF) and when my better half looked at the listings, she suggested going to the Closing Gala Film in town called “Death of a Superhero“.
The film is about Donald, a 14 years South Dublin boy growing up with all the problems of adolescence. His parents don’t understand him, he rages against the world. He has found he has a talent for drawing comics and fills them with sketches featuring his strong, silent hero battling against The Glove, a supervillain with syringes for fingers. Donald is confused about the opposite sex and is afraid he will die a virgin.
And he will die, because Donald is terminally ill with cancer. He doesn’t have long left and appears to be a on a cycle of destruction. Skipping school, drawing his artwork on buildings, standing in front of trains. Exasperated, he is taken to a series of psychologists, until eventually he forms a bond with Dr Adrian King and his true reasons for his anger start to come out. In the meantime, he meets Shelly, a streetwise spirit at school and the pair begin to fall for each other.
I’ll not go into things too far, as I’m rubbish at revewing films. (Here is one from the Toronto International Film Festival.) Suffice to say that “Death of a Superhero” is a wonderful, wonderful film. It mixes the awkwardness of adolescence like the best John Hughes movie, with the down to earth realism of Dublin. The performances are top notch, Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Donald is superb (you will recognise him from Love Actually, or the Doctor Who Family of Blood two-parter), Aisling Loftus as Shelly and Andy Serkis for once without CGI as Dr King. There are moments of absolute hilarity and absolute heartbreak and the film does a superb job of walking the line between tragedy and comedy. The audience was in floods of tears, alternately at the tragic situation of cancer and the hilarious antics of Donalds idiot brothers, who’ll do anything to get him laid.
“Death of a Superhero” is doing the rounds of film festivals at the moment and hopefully it will pick up a wider distribution deal. It deserves to be seen by as wide an audience as possible.