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Review: White Irish Drinkers

Will Coviello on John Gray's autobiographical drama about growing up in 1970s Brooklyn


Unfortunately, one of the more amusing moments in White Irish Drinkers involves a couple of Italian-American-looking guys mistakenly entering a working-class Irish-American bar in Brooklyn. It's 1975, they're wearing disco outfits and they have their hair slicked back a la John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. They look like they walked into the wrong movie, and it's an early warning that Drinkers' writer/director John Gray views the world through cliches.

  Brian Leary (Nick Thurston) is a smart, artistically talented, sensitive teenager. His brawling alcoholic father has bullied his older brother Danny (Geoffrey Wigdor) so much about being tough that Danny has become a petty thug and criminal. All but one of Brian's friends pays billboard-sized lip service to having no ambition in life and no desire to see anything beyond the New York skyline. They talk about getting city jobs protected by strong unions so they can get pensions and benefits. That's not an unworthy aspiration, but here it's just to put Brian's artistic ambitions in heroic contrast, and it leaves them sounding hollow and sad.

  Thurston turns in a good performance as Brian, and that's impressive because the script gives him little to work with. Perhaps only an aspiring painter could hang around with such a cartoonish set of family members — belligerent brother, menacing drunk failure of a father and caring but enabling mother — but how Brian could be afraid of the outside world instead of his suffocating family life is hard to fathom. Waiting for him to realize it doesn't give Drinkers much of a sense of drama. — Will Coviello

June 3

White Irish Drinkers

Chalmette Movies, 8700 W. Judge Perez Drive, 304-9992;

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