A young south Dublin cabdriver, John (Jack Reynor) barely makes ends meet. He shares social housing with his mother, Jean (Toni Collette), an unwavering alcoholic who is systematically drinking herself to death. Hospitalized after another overdose, Jean’s best hope is a costly, private rehab clinic. Desperate and without money or insurance, John takes a shady job from the ambiguous criminal element he’s loosely connected to.
It takes a special sensibility to capture a bleak reality while still giving tremendous vitality to the storytelling, but that's exactly what writer/director Gerard Barrett brings to Glassland. Its beautiful poetic realism and quiet intensity take hold early and never let go. These are people living on the margins, trying to break the cycle ("every day is the same day," as John says). But his spirited stoicism and compassion—for his family and his mate Shane (Will Poulter)—is deeply moving.
Barrett pushes his characters in surprising, even funny directions, and Glassland’s emotional power hinges on their subtle interactions and the spellbinding performances from Collette and burgeoning talents Reynor and Poulter. —J.N.
Gerard Barrett is a 27-year-old writer/director from Ireland. In 2012, Barrett's debut feature film, Pilgrim Hill, a low-budget study of a farmer living a lonely life filmed over seven days in rural Ireland, premiered at the Galway Film Fleadh and immediately garnered critical acclaim. In February 2013, Barrett won the IFTA Rising Star Award at the Irish Film and Television Awards in Dublin. He went on to film Glassland in January 2014.