Film review: King of the Travellers (15)


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The Independent Culture

This no-budget drama about Irish travellers begins with a two-horse chariot race along a motorway – Ben O'Hur, if you will – in which the victor no sooner crosses the line than he's gunned down.

Fifteen years later, his son John Paul (John Connors) still seeks vengeance for his daddy's murder, convinced that the recently returned Powers family are the culprits.

The writer-director Mark O'Connor is no stranger to Shakespeare – spot references to Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet – though he's less assured on the nuts and bolts of actual plotting.

Essentially, it's a glimpse into a hopeless cycle of family resentments and feuds, kept alive by internet postings and the curse of the Irish memory – none so long, or so bitter.

The bareknuckle fights and wild carousing have a rough-hewn authenticity ("Are we havin' a hooley, or wha'?") personified in the character of Mickey "The Bags" Moorehouse (Peter Coonan), an unregenerate yob who fires up the picture in the same way Robert De Niro's Johnny Boy did in Mean Streets 40 years ago.