A case could be made that Irish actor Jack Reynor belongs in the same group as Tom Hardy, Jack O’Connell and Domhnall Gleeson. Reynor is a reliable screen presence who has delivered strong supporting performances in critical darlings like Macbeth, Sing Street and A Royal Night Out.
Unfortunately, most of North America knows Reynor for the horrid Delivery Man and the somehow worse Transformers: Age of Extinction.
Here is an opportunity to meet the up-and-comer properly: Glassland is one of those gritty social dramas Irish cinema does so well. Reynor is John, a cab driver who somehow managed to survive a turbulent upbringing and non-existent parental guidance.
Predictably, John carries a lot of baggage. Chief among his issues is his less-than-nurturing mother (a terrific Toni Collette), a raging alcoholic who endangers her own life on daily basis. John is also responsible for a brother with Down syndrome who has been disowned by the matriarch.
Given the number of obligations –financial and otherwise- he must contend with, not to mention his job, John operates on the fringes of society, where need outweighs the law. Something has to give and even a good person is likely to crumble under pressure.
Bleak to the bone, Glassland doesn’t go down easily. Thankfully, Reynor, Collette, Will Poulter (The Revenant) and Michael Smiley (Kill List) are compelling enough to follow. Collette in particular is monstrous without turning into a caricature.
At times you may feel the movie is just trading water, but beware. The dumbfounding ending rewards attention to detail. Make sure to put your cellphone away and plug in. Three prairie dogs in denial.
Glassland is available on iTunes and VOD services starting today.