Disco Pigs

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Movie Review by Kris Griffiths

Starring: Elaine Cassidy, Cillian Murphy, Brian O’Byrne, Eleanor Methven Geraldine O’Rawe
Director: Kirsten Sheridan

DISCO PIGS is a mad tale of two mad teenagers from Cork. The original play by Enda Walsh premiered onstage only five years ago and has already made the risky jump onto the big screen. Its narrative formula is essentially ‘couple on the run’ combined with ‘coming of age / rites of passage’. In a modern film context it is TWIN TOWN meets NATURAL BORN KILLERS whilst as classic literature it would be Steinbeck’s OF MICE AND MEN meets Miller’s A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE.

Cillian Murphy and Elaine Cassidy are twins in all but blood. Born moments apart in the same hospital, they clock each other from the neighbouring cots they are put in and magically do a little baby handshake. From that day onwards they become an inseparable telepathically-joined couple who build their own little world with their own rules, their own language, and their own names – Pig (Murphy) and Runt (Cassidy). We see them down at the local disco ritually playing a nasty game: Runt selects an unfortunate boy on the dance floor, dances suggestively with him, then as she goes to kiss him Pig quickly runs over and pulls his pants down. The following week Pig decides to head-butt the victim and then kick the crap out of him, much to Runt’s surprise. It is a few days before their seventeenth birthday and cracks have appeared in their fortress because Pig wants their relationship to enter the next phase of union. After seeing the sexually awakening Runt take an interest in another boy at school, Pig begins sliding into a jealous insanity. He becomes so mad that Runt’s parents move her to a special school in Donegal, which makes him even madder. The frantic mission to find her sees the desperate boy descend into a spiral of bloody brutality and death.

The acting in this film is superb. Cassidy is brilliant as the confused but calm teenage girl. Murphy’s almost angelic boyish face belies the twisted rage that burns within his character, and we see it burn. Pig’s acts of random violence are random indeed: when a man asks him for a cigarette in a cafe he replies by skewering his hand with a fork. When an off licence refuses his request for some free booze he proceeds to smash the shop to smithereens with a hurling stick. The only problem with it all is that despite all his crazy crimes Pig is never arrested.

The stylised direction of the film verges on the surreality of the content itself, which results in a chaotic energy from start to finish. Then there are the contrasting serene scenes such as Pig’s soliloquy to the camera concerning his explicit sexual fantasies about Runt. The dramatic device is enhanced by the strange broken language he uses – a heavy Irish dialect spoken in a sort of Shakespearian English. Its effect is disconcerting and alienates us further.

A minor complaint is that the film ends up zooming towards a predictable finale after only ninety minutes. But as its tagline appropriately asserts, it is ‘ninety minutes you will never forget’.

5 out of 6 stars