'THE MAN FROM BALYDUFF'
- Directed by Ron Devitt -
This short is a detective flick and an entertaining film-noir homage.
Rocky Slate, a private detective, is visited by a young lady who has a job for him: searching her long-lost brother. Even though he knows it is almost impossible to find him, Rocky accepts the case, charmed by the beauty of his client. After some unsuccessful attempts, he bumps into the solution of his case.
Set in the golden age of film noir, “The Man From Balyduff” meets most of the characteristics of the genre, from plot to soundtrack. The story misses the strong villain of femme fatale figure, the main antagonist remains the unknown.
We are guided through the story by the witty and overly descriptive narrative that almost follows the stream of thoughts of the main character. From time to time, the voice over hints at parody as if the character becomes aware of the tropes of the genre.
The protagonist is good-looking, elegant, well-connected and a chain smoker, the last trait being common for all the other characters. An interesting detail is that his world is populated by women, except his attackers and the paper boy, all his informers, from bar owner to the girl selling cigarettes, are female.
The characters interact in dark and claustrophobic monochrome decors. The windows are covered with Venetian blinds, we never get to see outdoor light or scenery.
The setting is low lit, the cinematographer plays with long shadows. The chiaroscuro lighting is used to create typical noir scenes, like the gallery one, where the mysterious smoking lady witnesses the beating of the detective. The tracking shots end with close-ups of the characters, letting the viewer see their expressions of wonder, surprise or curiosity. The suspenseful music completes the dramatic atmosphere.
Beyond the parodic intention of this film, there are certain aspects that could have worked better. The female characters don't manage a believable performance. Their costumes and hairstyle don’t help much either, as they don’t look professional. We also felt the need of more action in many scenes, the film is relying too much on the voice-over. This lack of dynamism minimizes the suspense of the film.
All in all, we appreciate the hard work of tackling such a specific style of cinema like film noir and we consider “The Man From Balyduff” to be an enjoyable cinematic experience.