PARKED Review: Charming & Mildly Amusing

Parked plods along without really packing the emotional punch that it should, and sadly this undermines the performances of it’s two leads.

rating: 2.5

Fred Daly, (Colm Meaney) quite literally does not have pot to piss in and lives in his clapped out car, which is permanently parked in the local beach car park. It€™s a meaningless existence until young druggie Cathal (Colin Morgan aka BBC€™s Merlin) comes into his world. The question is: will Cathal€™s chaotic energy give Fred€™s life the kick up the arse that it needs? Starting off with an always brave dialogue free opening five minutes, Parked meanders along as Fred mopes about, either staring wistfully out to sea, washing in the public toilets, or trying to sign on. From the off, it€™s easy to see that this ambling pace may be a struggle for those audience members with a short attention span and despite the appearance of Cathal entering the fray, we still never get out of second gear (my one and only vehicle related pun, I promise) as the two new-found friends hang out and try to improve their situations. When I start noticing a films soundtrack and the €˜quite nice cinematography€™ in the first third, then there€™s often something not quite working. This is no fault of Colm Meaney as he imbues Fred with an abundance of pathos, yet the overwhelming problem is we just don€™t care enough about him. A conscious decision has been made by the writer Ciaran Creagh not to reveal anything telling about Fred€™s backstory. Sure, I get that he€™s trying to tell us something about the state of Ireland at the moment and this ambiguity about Fred€™s predicament may be to serve that purpose, but this doesn€™t make for interesting storytelling. It actually makes it really hard for the audience to feel any real empathy for Fred and this is compounded by the fact that he seems to be managing just fine with his situation with absolutely nothing at stake. Cathal provides Colin Morgan a solid platform to shed his Merlin persona and prove that he has a lot more in his locker than the young, swashbuckling wizard he€™s become a household name with and, to his credit, he delivers a solid and affecting performance as the junkie on a slippery slope to the grave. Yet, as with Meaney's portrayal Fred, all this good work by Morgan is undone by the fact that we never really care whether Cathal overcomes his problems or not. Prompted by Cathal, Fred switches to the local leisure centre as his chosen place of personal hygiene maintenance and this leads to an impotent romance with local music teacher Juliana (Milka Ahlroth). This is where the real focus of the story should be; yet other than the odd coincidental crossing of paths, the unlikely friendship between Fred and Cathal still gets the majority of screen time. Finally conflict comes along in the guise of the local drug dealer and his muscle, which are pursuing Cathal for some money that he owes. The danger that they present ups the pace and massages the narrative into a third act that sees both characters make irrevocable choices that permanently change their lives forever. Charming and mildly amusing in places, Parked plods along without really packing the emotional punch that it should, and sadly this undermines the performances of it€™s two leads. Parked is on limited UK release right now.
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