The premise of chasing an unreliable, elderly persons’ fortune is one that has been explored this year already in Alexander Payne’s Nebraska – as a film of two men travelling hundreds of miles to chase a million dollars. Well Lance Daly offers his own unique version of affairs, and somewhat more low-key too, as we follow an opportunist Irish family, running aimlessly around the streets of Dublin to recover a mattress that has close to a million euros inside of it. Similarly to Nebraska, though not quite to the same extent, you question whether this stash of money genuinely exists, adding a fun sense of ambiguity to proceedings.
When the young Emma (Kelly Thornton) takes her Nan (Fionnula Flanagan) out for the day, upon their return, the elderly woman finds her middle aged offspring have cleared out her house, throwing away everything they deemed dispensable, regardless of sentimental value. Amongst the possessions they took to recycling, includes Nan’s bed – which she reveals had close to a million euros stashed inside of it – her life savings. With the clumsy, eccentric Colm (Pat Shortt) leading the wild goose chase, this family set off to find the money – though when word spreads and the local news get hold of the story, it seems they aren’t the only ones searching around Dublin for this immensely valuable mattress.
There is something so endearingly Irish about this production, helped along by a traditional score which adds to the amiable atmosphere to this film. There is a brilliantly droll Irish wit prevalent throughout, while there are shades of the likes of Little Miss Sunshine, too. The funniest character of all is Colm, who is simply a brilliant comic creation, as a man who struggles to even get the candles on a birthday cake lit. He’s brilliantly impassioned, and takes everything at face value, and much credit must go to the Shortt for taking such an idiotic and imbecilic character, and turning him into somebody so intrinsically likeable. Though Shortt does have a history in that department, as he plays the mad lunatic Tom in Father Ted – a show that shares a somewhat similarly, eccentric, heightened reality that this film abides by.
Another fine performance is from the newcomer Thornton, who is just so watchable and incredibly subtle – which is an impressive attribute for somebody so young to have. She has real star quality, and Daly certainly knows it – as she plays a pivotal role in this title, with plenty of screen time. To complete what is a terrifically acted piece, Flanagan is also fantastic as Nan. Both she and her granddaughter Emma are far more level headed than all of the others, and such an approach is amusing, as typically they’d be the most naïve, yet Daly goes against that notion.
Life’s a Breeze is an accomplished and immensely heartwarming tale, coming from a very confident and assured filmmaker, as a story matched by some wonderfully structured scenes and cinematography. But where this title stands out greatest, is within the audiences’s support for this family’s cause. Despite the conspicuous flaws that exists amongst them, they’re incredibly endearing and empathetical, and you’re just desperate for them to get their money. So while Nebraska receives all of the publicity and attention (that it wholeheartedly deserves), you’ll be equally as gratified if you try and seek this little number out as well.