Directed by Leonard Abrahamson
"Garage" is a little indie gem, hailing all the way from Ireland. If this film does not get a release in America-even if it is a really limited release-it will be considered crime. There isn't much to hate in this charming, offbeat, and very touching comic drama. The main character is played by an Irish actor named Pat Shortt, in a very subdued performance. I've never heard of Shortt before this, and was very surprised to learn by the director that Shortt is a very famous Irish comedian, and who is famous for doing strong and crude physical comedy. In Ireland, the director feared that all of his fans would go see this film expecting more laughs than what it ends up being. There isn't much of the crude physical comedian in his character-Josie-but I guess he's just quite the talented man.
Shortt does play Josie, a very kind and sweet worker in a garage in the middle of nowhere. While he doesn't really have any friends, everyone is generally kind to him because he is kind back. Josie doesn't not like anybody, and will pretty much say a kind thing to everyone he passes. He lives alone, goes to the bar from time to time, and also feeds a horse that lives in a stable not too far from him. The horse may be the one stable friend in his life. The gas station owner ends up hiring a young kid-David-a boy of fifteen who is supposed to be Josie's assistant. The two of them begin to bond on the off hours, and Josie and the kid end up drinking cans of beer, innocently, in the shed behind the garage.
That's really all you need to know. "Garage" isn't a film about plot or story, but character. This is a strong character film-a man that appears to have little depth. Josie seems very simple on the outside, but inside there is much more too him. In the third act, Josie's kind actions are called into question by other people in a plot twist that I will not reveal. This is the underlining social commentary of "Garage"-things are changing there. Small communities are changing to reveal the bigger picture. Josie is a product of his times-a small town man used to things being one way when they are really changing. He can't get away with his former actions like he used to. The heart and soul of the film is Shortt's performance, and he plays Josie very well, a tough task to do since he is on the screen literally the entire film. And there is so much warmth and kindness in his performance, that he is impossible not the like.
The last half of the film does take that dramatic turn, but this is the message of "Garage." It is an enormous success, and needs to be pick up for American release. One thing that I also noticed was that the festival print had English subtitles on the bottom. I was quite pleased by this. I learned a lesson after seeing "Once," a film I was able to understand about seventy percent of. Here I was able to get past the thick accents and be able to understand every single word.