From the creators of ONCE - ZONAD Now On DemandMay 25, 2011
On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand and from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: ZONAD (FilmBuff).
From the creators of ONCE - ZONAD Now On Demand
By Chris Claro
In the 80s, writer-director Bill Forsyth created a series of gentle, twee comedies in his home country of Scotland. The films, GREGORY’S GIRL, COMFORT AND JOY, and LOCAL HERO were wistful, whimsical stories of young love, mermaids, and ice cream wars. Like the Ealing comedies of the 50s, Forsyth’s films conveyed both a sense of humor and a sense of place.
ZONAD, written and directed by John Carney and Kieran Carney (ONCE), carries on that tradition. Though bawdier in spirit than Forsyth’s tales, the Carneys’ film is a carol to the well-meaning but seemingly clueless citizens of a small Irish village. A fable with a dirty mind, ZONAD is a hilarious surprise.
Simon Delaney is the title character, who, simply by donning red vinyl coveralls and a bike helmet, manages to convince the citizens of the impossibly naïve Irish village Ballymoran that he is an alien spaceman, rather than a very human drunk.
Nubile and willing, young Jenny (Janice Byrne), who can’t get started with maybe-he’s-gay boyfriend Guy (Rory Keenan), takes an immediate shine to Zonad, as does every female in the village, including Jenny’s mom. Thus, the visitor becomes a folk hero in Ballymoran, enjoying the ministrations of the village’s damsels as he heartily partakes of the “bubbly, hops and malt beverage” thrust at him by the gents.
Though Zonad’s status as an opportunistic – and earthbound – lush is never in doubt for the audience, watching him constantly put one over on the guileless Ballymor-ons is what gives the Carneys’ film its charm. Appearing stuck in the 1950s, complete with varsity jackets and schoolgirl uniforms and quaint bicycles, the village is an anachronism, as it is also home to corrupt policemen, closeted manservants, and scientists with cabinets full of such magical potions as MDMA and heroin.
The dichotomy between the perception and the reality of the village and its occupants is where the Carneys find much of what makes ZONAD hilarious.
The actors are uniformly excellent, never winking at the camera or condescending to the characters. Byrne’s randy ripeness makes Jenny’s pursuit of the supposed spaceman hilarious, and Keenan plays Guy with an innocence that’s painfully funny.
Delaney is brilliant as Zonad, who, even at his sleaziest, is always charming.
At a fleet 75 minutes, ZONAD flies to its satisfying wrap-up, which the Carneys manage brilliantly, as they allow the villagers to maintain their dignity, even after the jig is up for Zonad. A true discovery, ZONAD is a totally original winner. Grab it as soon as you can.
Chris Claro is a contributing writer to On Demand Weekly. He is a former Director of Promotion for Sundance Channel and now works as a writer, producer, and media educator. He is a regular contributor to dvdverdict.com and contributor to the Eyes and Ears section of huffingtonpost.com
Look for ZONAD (FilmBuff) under your cable system's Movie On Demand section.
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