By Jim Slotek
The interconnected Irish anthology Lost & Found – about lives that intersect in and around a small-town train station - starts at an interesting, pleasant hum, and pretty much stays there, avoiding high drama.
The result is something like an Irish-accented Coronation Street with more locations, fewer confrontations, and beer, which, to my mind, isn’t a bad way to spend time in a theatre.
An indie film that is releasing its way through North America after a tour of film festivals, it is written by, directed by and mostly stars veteran actor/filmmaker Liam O Mochain. We meet him first as Daniel, in his first day on the job in the station’s Lost & Found department. A sign on the door says anything not claimed in three months will be donated to charity, but the cluttered flea market vibe of the office suggests they are often lax at this task.
O Mochain is attracted to the antic, so it figures that Daniel’s first day will be busy (the town itself isn’t identified – but it’s small enough that, if everybody doesn’t know everybody, they know someone who does). Articles gone walking include a lost wallet, a briefcase with sensitive contents, a wedding gown and, most significantly, a baby.
Though you might expect the lost baby to figure prominently in the story, it is merely a distraction in a segment that introduces some key characters, either directly or by reputation and gossip. Among them: Podge (Donncha Crowley)
the ill-tempered manager of the pub where Daniel works weekends, his girlfriend Zoe (Olga Wehrly), his best friend Gabriel (Seamus Hughes), and various other colourful locals, many of whom get their own story in the seven on offer.
Some of them are bittersweet, including that of a memory-impaired old gent named Eddie (Liam Carney), who is mistaken for a beggar because he keeps “losing” his tickets and wallet and desperately seeks ticket money to a destination that cannot be.
Some are almost slapstick, like Gabriel’s ill-fated attempt to surprise his fiancée Sile (Aoibhin Garrihy) with the ultimate proposal setting.
There’s a touching story starring O Mochain that takes the movie out of its environment briefly, all the way to Poland.
And there’s a sharp left turn in the story of Podge’s eccentric attempts at customer promotions (including a night of Mongolian throat singing), all of which are in vain, given that he’s barred half the town from his pub for various offences.
Characters die in the course of the seven short tales (the movie comes in at just under 90 minutes), but the gentle spirit of Lost & Found never flags. Some of the resolutions, including the ultimate one, don’t follow the narrative breadcrumbs O Mochain has been leaving us.
Still, the movie’s meandering walk through people’s lives makes for a feel-good visit to a fictional destination, a “silent tourist” experience, for non-Irish at least.
Lost & Found. Written and directed by Liam O Mochain. Starring Liam O Mochain, Seamus Hughes and Donncha Crowley. Opens Friday, March 29 at the Carlton Cinemas in Toronto, the Princess Cinema in Edmonton and the Plaza Theatre in Calgary.