Review: Rialto

The follow up feature for Daphne director Peter Mackie Burns. Colm (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor) is married with two older children and a long-term job at the docks but while grieving the death of his emotionally destructive father, his job is threatened, he begins to avoid his wife Claire (Monica Dolan) and becomes infatuated with a sex worker (Tom Glynn-Carney).

Fair warning to anyone planning to give this film a go: it is not for anyone lacking in patience, it has plenty to offer but it does so in a fairly slow, refined manner, so if that’s not for you, it’s going to be difficult to get along with this one. For everyone else, that’s a huge part of the film’s quality, it isn’t trying to rush through the events or only show you the gritty drama of it, it takes you through a few days in the life of Colm (Vaughan-Lawlor), in a way that’s real and earnest. There’s no clear cut aim of where the events are leading us, but it is clear that Colm’s infatuation with sex worker Jay (Glynn-Carney) is only going to grow and that it’s part of a larger breakdown that the death of Colm’s father has begun.


Things may move slowly but Vaughan-Lawlor’s performance as Colm is so sincere and vulnerable, while at the same time being subdued and withheld, that it’s utterly gripping. Especially when he’s supported by brilliant actors like Monica Dolan and Tom Glynn-Carney, Dolan’s portrayal of the downtrodden wife who just wants to help but keeps being pushed away is perfectly disheartened and Glynn-Carney’s youthful disillusioned male prostitute has that spark of warmth behind his aggressive and cold demeanour, ever so slightly leaning in to the connection that Colm so desperately wants. Each and every performance comes across as frank and genuine, making the film feel like a drama that could be happening around the corner and you’d just never know it.

A booming, very classically styled score sits atop the whole affair, it gives everything an extra layer of gravitas, elevating the events and adding a dose of suspense. The cinematography impressively reflects the emotions of each scene superbly well, as well as including some great wide shots of the docks that make something very industrial and boring, look almost enticing. Both of which ensure that even though what’s taking place might not always be exciting as such, you’re consistently drawn in.

Rialto is written, directed, shot and acted extremely well, it’s engrossing and emotional but done in a very stoic and drawn out manner. It’s raw but it never gets too gritty, merely approaches the mark but doesn’t pass it and there’s no frills or flash, it’s a down to earth story. The film ends slightly abruptly, it would have been very satisfying to see what would have happened just after the film’s final scenes but you can understand the decision to end it there, as it reflects the way the rest of the story was handled. You’re getting 90-minutes of mid-life crisis brought on by the death of a parent, repressed sexuality and a touch of alcoholism, so long as you have the patience to stick with it, it’s well worth watching.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯

You can see Rialto at London Film Festival on the 5th, 6th & 10th October

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