Granted a four day release from Mountjoy Prison, petty criminals Ste (Les Martin) and Weed (Declan Mills, The Monuments Men, Red Rock) are warned to ‘be good.’ Ste’s more than happy to comply, hoping to take advantage of their brief freedom to reconnect with his six year-old daughter and win back her mother Dee’s (Jenny-Lee Masterson) trust, but Weed’s not making it easy. Weed’s an aspiring fashion designer with a nasty drug addiction and, inconveniently for Ste, a habit of getting into trouble.
It’s the chemistry between the two criminal cousins that holds Cathal Nally’s Be Good or Be Gone together. The movie is at its best when the duo are bickering, Ste playing the straight man to the ridiculous Weed, growing ever more frustrated at his fashion advice and craving for his next fix. The stylish drug addict is a welcome injection of comic relief as things get rather dark over the course of the four days.
Naturally, Be Good or Be Gone is reminiscent of Lenny Abrahamson’s classic Adam and Paul that followed two drug addicts wandering around Dublin trying to score heroin. There’s even an undercurrent of sly humour running through the film although it’s overwhelmed by an overly bleak tone at times.
And Jesus, do things get bleak for poor Weed. He’s put through the ringer in a manner that can’t help but feel manipulative when he gets mixed up with the gangster Braler, played by Alan Sherlock turning in a delightfully sinister performance. It’s shocking stuff that doesn’t really gel with some of the lighter, sentimental scenes.
It doesn’t take long for Be Good or Be Gone to get back on its feet and build to quite a moving finale that focuses on Ste trying to reconnect with Dee and ultimately gain redemption for the mistakes of his past. Overall, it’s a promising debut with a strong cast and effective score.