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Parked A Freewheeling Review By Alison Jane Reid

July 16, 2012 in Archive
Note from Colin on playing Cathal in Parked.
“ I loved working with Darragh Byrne and Colm Meaney. The story of Fred and Cathal is amazing, and I loved the script. It’s exciting to take on different roles from my character Merlin, and not to be typecast – I’ve been lucky.”
From geek to beautiful, dispossessed outcast. Colin Morgan’s portrait of a heroin addict deserves to be the underground hit of the year. Cast aside by the father he loves, Cathal’s story is honest, messy, heartbreaking and as raw as an open wound. When has a drug addict latched onto your heart quite like Morgan’s charismatic lost boy? There is something almost Christ like about his story.
But that really isn’t the point of Parked. This funny, sad, affecting and quietly redemptive film from Irish director, Darragh Byrne, is ultimately about the beauty and power of friendship, and the deeply human need to belong.
In the middle of winter, Cathal and Fred both pull into an isolated car park looking out over a desolate Dublin Bay in winter. It soon becomes apparent that both the older man and the 21-year-old Cathal are homeless, and that they have no alternative but to live out their humdrum, fragile lives in their cars.
One of the central and most haunting themes of the film is that when you are homeless you cease to exist, especially in the eyes of benefit bureaucrats and the state.  As the jaded man in the benefits office coldly tells Fred ‘If you have no fixed address, we can’t write to you, and therefore you are not eligible for benefits’.
The futility and pointlessness of Fred’s situation is like a knife in the heart. Given the deep recession in Europe and Britain, anyone could end up homeless and on the streets through unemployment, mental illness or bad luck. Colm Meaney plays Fred with subtlety, warmth and realism. We learn that he has returned to Ireland years after moving to London. Along the way we discover that he is a talented watch and clock restorer. ‘ I was going to be married,’he tells Cathal with a sense of complete confusion and bewilderment.
We feel the futility of his situation, and his desire not to let the most basic rituals such as brushing his teeth and having a strip wash go, despite his depressing circumstances. He still has pride, despite a pervading sense shock and dislocation that he has landed up outside society.
Set against this backdrop, Cathal careers into Fred’s life, all mercury eyes and a fizzing energy and restless playfulness. At first Fred is wary of the younger, wired, yet strangely charismatic Cathal. Gradually a fledgling, tentative friendship begins to take root, and Cathal takes his new friend to the local swimming baths and nudges him gently back into civilization, and the opportunity to have a hot shower. The same day he also collides with Jules, a beautiful, cultured piano teacher from Sweden, and the sparks fly.
Suddenly, life doesn’t look quite so bleak or so hopeless.
The friendship between Fred and Cathal begins to deepen.  They go up to the woods, lark around and pretend to be rally drivers. Fred has the time of his life and starts to let go. This brief, playful interlude is quickly contrasted with the unwelcome arrival of the local drug dealer, a cartoon psychopath who comes looking for an overdue payment from Cathal for drugs. When the men start to ill treat Cathal, his friend instinctively steps in and offers them all the money he has to make them go away. Then in a moment of anger and a sense of injustice, he loses his temper and sees them men out of their little kingdom in the car park. Sadly, this will have tragic consequences for Cathal.
In the briefest moment of hope, Cathal promises his friend that he will give up drugs, and for a moment, just a brief moment we believe him. But his willpower will soon ebb away, and we see the ugly, awful reality of an addict, injecting heroin into his foot to hide the scars.
In the midst of a heroin haze, the drug dealer and his sidekick return to seek revenge for Fred’s noble intervention. The scene where they beat up Cathal is brutal, cruel and unsentimental. But it needs to be. There is nothing pretty or romantic about being an addict, and the people who peddle drugs are vile and inhuman criminals.
In one last hopeless cry for help, and without his friend to intervene, Cathal finds his way to his family home, and begs his father to help him and pay off the drug dealers. His father refuses and in doing so, seals his son’s fate.
Cathal wanders around a wasteland in a desperate, confused, hopeless, bloodied state, and a pack of feral kids taunt him before plying him with a final joint. Seeing him die in a miasma of pain and torment is one of the saddest moments I have ever witnessed in a film. Only in death, laid out in a coffin, does he find peace and an end to his suffering.
Fortunately, there is redemption of a kind.  Fred finally outwits the benefit office with the help of the local newspaper and a kindly charity worker, and after going to Cathal’s wake, and talking to his father, we see him finally installed in his own flat. Once again, he has re-joined society.
And so the cycle of life go on – spurred on by an imperfectly beautiful, freewheeling friendship.
Parked is Directed by Darragh Byrne, and Stars Colm Meaney and Colin Morgan. It is available to rent or download from lovefilm.com
Alison Jane Reid – July 2012

about the author

Alison Jane Reid

Alison Jane Reid - Journalist, Editor & Emerald Princess of Slow, Sustainable Luxury Living - 18 year track record interviewing real icons for: The Times, The Lady, You, The Mirror and Country Life. Now leading her alluring fairtrade, emerald revolution - Don’t Miss Out - Have you joined The Ethical Hedonist set?

14 responses to “Parked A Freewheeling Review By Alison Jane Reid”

  1. Hermy says:

    I cried again just from your review. This story was really one of the most beautiful I ever saw. Thanks for the wonderful review.

  2. ColinFan says:

    Colin Morgan’s work in Parked is amazing, like his work as Merlin and as Callum. Wonderful review! Thanks.

  3. LUL says:

    I watched the movie and I totally agree with you: Colin Morgan does one of the best and intelligent works I’ve ever seen. His portrayal of Cathal is touching, heartbreaking, fascinating. The way Darragh Byrne films his gorgeous face in close up makes us see through Cathal’s soul. Colin Morgan is captivating.

  4. CC says:

    Colin Morgan made me cry with his portrayal of Cathal. Colin does an amazing work! Thank you for this review.

  5. LILO says:

    Colin Morgan never ceases to amaze me with his genius acting, his unlimited talent, his intelligence, his adorablness, his respectful attitude and his sweetness. Through this movie, I discovered Cathal, a character so full of beauty and sweetness, but so vulnerable and hurt! Colin Morgan made me love this drug addict and I never thought I would like this kind of character one day.

  6. angellla29 says:

    Colin Morgan is so special. His work in “Parked” is amazing. He makes me cry..,which rarely happens to me

  7. M5 says:

    Colin Morgan is so inspiring! His portrayal of Cathal is perfect. He’s the best actors of our generation.
    Thank you for this review, Miss Alison Jane Reid. I hope to read/see more of your work dedicated to Colin Morgan!

  8. Nancy says:

    I loved this film….can’t get enough of Colin Morgan. He is truly amazing.

  9. LovingColinMorgan says:

    Great review! Colin Morgan is tremendously talented and so amazing in his role of Cathal. I already love him as Merlin (He made Merlin my favorite character), and when I watched him as Cathal (and also as Calum in “Island”), I immediately fell in love with him and with his characters even more. The movie “Parked” made me cry because Colin Morgan made me believe 100% in his character’s feelings and existence. Colin Morgan adds amazing performances to other amazing performances.

  10. Naty says:

    You made me cry again, reading this review. Thanks again for the wonderful words to Colin Morgan

  11. JaneJill says:

    ‘Cathal’s story is… heartbreaking and as raw as an open wound’… – What ‘drew’ me to Colin’s characters was precisely this opposite way that he takes, from the mere ‘physical’ level, to the depths and the heights, and the passions of the less ‘physical’ one…
    ‘What drew you to this role?’ he was asked in one interview [as in many others], and the answer was: ‘The challenge’… the desire to go further, and deeper… this story is not about the dramas of the three characters, it is not only about the deep feelings, but it is about the complexity of their situations… it is about the unanswered questions [ the long moments of silence in this film…]
    ‘I ask myself questions. I don’t answer them all… And the most important ones are the ones that remain without an answer.’ – another thing that Colin also said then.
    ‘He [Cathal] is not an “addict”, he is a person, he has a name’ — and the look in his eyes when he talked about the persons that he visited in the rehab centres…!….
    Ugliness and beauty. — somewhere in the interview with colin, Mrs. Reid, something about him reminded you about Gregory Peck [loved the interview, love G.P., but they are as different as night and day, as autumn-winter and spring-summer, – a little ‘star-gazing’ would tell the differences]… — but this story of opiate addiction reminded me a very complex ‘case’ of ‘beauty’ and ‘ugliness’; it is the dreadful scenes with Mrs. Dubose trying, on her last bed, to give up morphine, in “To Kill A Mockingbird”, — when Atticus sent Jem and Scout to read to her [that is not in the film]… It is a ‘complex’ situation, I said, since this question of addiction and ‘freedom’ is not an easy one — and the opiates are ‘poisons’ or medicine, and also, if the view of the extreme consequences of the addiction aren’t pretty, the view of the withdrawal isn’t pretty, either… Fred din’t know about what he was talking when he simply asked Cathal ‘to give it up’ — is isn’t something you can do in the middle of the winter, in a car, without any help. it is not about ‘morality’, it is about very ‘physical’ things [not to mention, from the very beginning, that opiates are mimicking other natural substances in the brain, and are ‘acting’ upon opiate receivers in the brain and in the body, — and that is why addiction is possible and so difficult to treat — the brain is literally ‘bathing’ in neurohormones, which naturally sustain and influence our states of mind… traditional societies used, and still use different plants or substances with this precise aim, — think only about the shamans and ayahuasca, or about the incense… or about snake venom ,venom or transformed in antidote … maybe ‘Merlin’ is pushing these things further, despite this ‘childish-youthful’ and innocent aspect at first sight upon the film…– many and many questions, and many mysteries…] — and Cathal is so beautiful at times… and so alone… addiction and solitude…
    Looking at ‘Parked’ and ‘Island’, some keywords came into my mind: “different paths” for ‘Parked’, and “traps” and “inferno circles” , for ‘Island’; in both we find the themes of the “éternel retour” and of the quest of life, and of the “damaged love” and “solitude”… Fred, Cathal and Jules are so different in their ‘structures’, that mere friendship isn’t enough to repair their wounds, — love, and similar friends would be necessary for that; each and every one of them would find himself, or herself, on a different way, alone…one of them beginning again his life, another retiring home, and another finishing at the beginning of his journey of ‘this’ life…
    ….. Why Cathal? ….

  12. Aya Sofya says:

    Thank you for the review. You wrote it very well, adding your thoughtful opinion which make me understand the film better. English is my second language so I had to struggle a bit trying to understand the accent and your review have cleared up a lot of things. Anyway, even though I have problems with the accent, just by watching it I still can feel the the characters. Yeah, Colin Morgan did amaze me. Never thought that I would love a drug-addict character.

    P/s: I did cry at some point in this film. strangely it was not when Cathal was cringing in pain to die but when Fred met his father and give the watch. I don’t know why that scene affected me so much. Maybe because I really wish that his father would just forgive him and care for him…and I wish Cathal wouldn’t have to die

    • Alison Jane Reid says:

      Hi Aya, I am glad you enjoyed the film review. Colin Morgan’s portrayal of Cathal in Parked is very powerful and very real. I am sure there are many real life Cathal’s. The rift between Cathal and his father is truly heartbreaking. Family breakdown is one of the biggest causes of homelessness in young people. I also longed for the father to show compassion towards his son, and to protect and care for him.

      Happy New Year, Alison Jane

  13. EJP says:

    For me, another scene that was equally as heart-breaking as the others mentioned above is when he had to sneak back in his father’s house. There he was, having to break the glass so he could come in, beaten and bloodied and so skinny and vulnerable. He was so hungry he was shaking (and it was so believable too – Colin was so painfully thin and looked so hurt and hungry…how could a boy like that still grasp at hope?). He was so hungry for all the basic needs that every human being has a right to have: for food, home and for love and acceptance and family… When he crashed into the unyielding wall of rejection from his father, he was devastated beyond belief because there seemed to be no way out after that. And that’s what sealed his fate.

    Is it too late to win awards for Colin Morgan’s role in this one? He truly brought the character to life. And his story will remain in our hearts and minds because he made us care so much.

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