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Murder, He Wrote, Directed and Starred In

MOVIE REVIEW
A Film With Me in It (2009)

Still2
IFC Films

An off-kilter dark comedy, “A Film With Me In It” establishes a high concept premise and follows it through without compromise. Imbued with the spirit of Martin McDonagh, director Ian Fitzgibbon and screenwriter-star Mark Doherty feature the ultimate depressed protagonist and setting — a lazy, struggling actor living in a flat that’s literally crumbling to pieces — and run both through the proverbial ringer. It’s a small picture that embraces its smallness, centered on a self-reflexive premise and some twisted, punishing campy humor.

Mr. Doherty plays Mark, the downbeat main character. He can’t get a job; his girlfriend (Amy Huberman) has tired of him; and he lives in a monstrously depressing apartment. Windows close with sudden brute force, lights flicker, chandeliers ominously creak, and the walls seem to be coming apart. He’s way behind on the rent and afraid of his landlord; so rather than fix the problems, he escapes to various pubs with best friend Pierce (Dylan Moran). Things come to a head of sorts when Mark’s personal and dwelling problems intersect, leaving a bloody, messy scene.

The apartment is the real star of the show. Gloomy and gray, with a low-light, chipped-paint look that recalls the most foreboding industrial setting, it’s the ultimate uninhabitable milieu. With tight close-ups, canted angles, ominous ambient sounds and other carefully calibrated techniques, Fitzgibbon amplifies its profound crappiness. The perfect place for a specimen as miserable as Mark, it seems possessed by a lackadaisically dangerous spirit, a foreboding presence born not out of genuine evil but architectural neglect.

The dwelling’s misdeeds transform the picture from a low-key sob story to a comedy of errors of mythical proportions. Convoluted problems pile up because of the place, and Mark and Pierce find themselves in a tight, inescapable spot. They struggle through their ever more challenging dilemmas — in what seems like a cruel, cosmic joke — in a grand, existential tradition that blurs the onscreen reality with their existence as characters. All the world’s a stage, indeed.

A FILM WITH ME IN IT

Opened on Jan. 1 in Manhattan.

Directed by Ian FitzGibbon; written by Mark Doherty; director of photography, Seamus Deasy; edited by Tony Cranstoun; music by Denis Woods; production designer, Eleanor Wood; produced by Alan Moloney and Susan Mullen; released by IFC Films. Running time: 1 hour 29 minutes. This film is not rated.

WITH: Dylan Moran (Pierce), Mark Doherty (Mark), Amy Huberman (Sally), Aisling O’Sullivan (Policewoman), Kevin Allen (Jack), Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Pierce 2), Neil Jordan (Director) and David O’Doherty (David).

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