Buried Credits, a column that deep dives into the IMDB pages of favorite actors, directors, and writers to find their lost, forgotten, or unknown film and TV credits, continues this week with works featuring Cillian Murphy.
“Eviction” (1999 Short)
Written and Directed by Tom Waller
Robbed by members of the Secret Society of Free Irishman, the McBride family are unable to pay rent. When the McBrides’ landlord gives them a three day deadline before eviction, Patrick McBride (Denys Hawthorne) names the robbers and gets pegged as a traitor, while his son, Brendan (Murphy), receives a summons to join the Free Irishman’s ranks.
What gives? Brendan’s sister, Aine (Maria Lennon), is right, when she says the family should be an island to themselves, but that option seems absent from the table. They’ve played the middle ground and now are being forced to choose between two paths to ruin. The Free Irishman are supposed to be allies but instigated the problem. Their motives for wanting Brendan to join, after wronging him, don’t make sense but Brendan’s compliance is also confusing, if explained away by desperation.
There isn’t a lot of time to get to know Brendan but he doesn’t seem the most strong-willed of fellows. When the robbers come to their tiny cottage it takes Aine’s yelling for him to appear. This is a small house and I don’t know what could’ve prevented him from hearing their arrival, but to explain the strange lag time as a budget limitation, on the size of the house, wouldn’t make sense either. Set during the Irish Famine, the family can’t afford what they have. Someplace bigger, with a room Brenden could’ve reasonably been oblivious in, would’ve rang false for different reasons.
Brendan hangs in the shadows while his father talks to the landlord. I’m not sure whether this decision was Cillian Murphy’s or scripted, but after speaking up he returns directly to the security of the door frame and it’s a curious choice. You could say he was checking his anger, by keeping to the background. Yelling and screaming wouldn’t have helped the situation, but his behavior during the rest of the short doesn’t contradict a reading of defeat here.
The editing in “Eviction” isn’t always smooth, starting with an early shot of soldiers riding fast and furious towards the camera, before panning left to a farm house, where the soldiers must’ve made a sharp u-turn to stop. Worse are unconvincing confrontations. The backhand “punch” that takes out Brendan, when he comes to his sister’s aid, is undisguisedly fake and an off screen death scene, meant to be moving, is made silly by sound effects, convenient flames, and Aine’s overwrought mourning.
“Eviction” available to watch HERE.
Verdict: Better Left Buried
A pointed reference to incest (Aine reminds us Brendan’s her brother before kissing him) is included for ambiguous reasons and I’m never sure whether Brendan realizes his dad is guilty. “Eviction” isn’t meant to have a happy ending, and life has a known capacity for being stacked against the undeserving, but that doesn’t mean you have to play into its hand as a forgone conclusion. The McBride’s, like this short, are too prepared for their fate, with Patrick carelessly public when he turncoats. The ending isn’t improbable but the journey should’ve been better.
Check back Monday when Lucas Wagner starts the week with a TV movie of Robert Louis Stevenson’s tale of pirates.