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COMMENT: I never get tired of 'The Snapper'

Monday, 12th June, 2017 7:55am

Story by Tony McCullagh
COMMENT: I never get tired of 'The Snapper'

CLASSIC: ‘The Snapper’ is always worth watching.

COMMENT: I never get tired of 'The Snapper'

CLASSIC: ‘The Snapper’ is always worth watching.

WHILE we often complain about the amount of repeats on RTÉ, it seems we just can’t get enough of ‘The Snapper’, the 1993 film adaptation of Roddy Doyle’s book.

There was always something about Doyle’s writing that resonated with Dubliners: the razor-sharp wit; the authenticity of the dialogue; the familiar locations.

In fact, no book reminds me more of my own childhood than his Booker Prize winning novel, ‘Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha’.

Equally, ‘The Van’ perfectly captured the euphoria of Italia ’90, when the adventures of the Republic of Ireland team lifted the mood of the nation and made us believe in ourselves. The film version has some great moments but didn’t quite capture the spirit of the book.

But this is certainly not the case with ‘The Snapper’, a film so true to the original work that you can almost hear the pages turn while you watch it.

The casting was nothing short of genius, with Colm Meaney putting in a career defining performance as Des Curley. In what is arguably the most accurate depiction ever of a working-class Dublin dad, Meaney perfectly captures the conflict of man who has to balance his love for his daughter with his reputation with his mates in the pub.

Likewise, Tina Kellegher is brilliant as ‘poor Sharon’, who falls pregnant after an ill-judged, drunken encounter in the car park of the Shieling Hotel with Georgie Burgess, memorably played by Pat Laffan.

There may well be questionable behaviour at play in terms of an older man taking advantage of a young woman in a vulnerable state. But both the film and book steer clear of making moral judgements, concentrating instead on the humanity of the situation they all find themselves in. 

Almost 25 years after ‘The Snapper’ was made, we still hear lines from the film quoted in everyday speech – a true measure of Doyle’s talent for creating enduring dialogue that stays with you forever.

Watching the film last week, it was interesting to see how much Dublin has changed over the past three decades, both in its physical appearance and societal attitudes. Smoking in pubs has now been consigned to history and Goodtime Charlie’s nightclub in Howth – where Sharon famously vomits into her handbag – has long closed, as has Conway’s pub where Des Curley celebrates the birth of his granddaughter by downing a pint of Guinness in record time.

It’s true to say that ‘The Snapper’ provides us with a unique snapshot of a pre-Celtic Tiger Ireland. But more than that – much more – it’s simply a great film.

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