‘Dublin Oldschool’ was originally a 2014 Irish play written by Irish actor, playwright and screenwriter Emmet Kirwan, which follows Jason, a wannabe DJ in Dublin who is addicted to drugs. One day, on the streets, he meets his brother Daniel, an educated homeless heroin addict. The two brothers later reconnect during a weekend.
Flash forward to 2018, and the play has been adapted into a feature-length film, shot over 20 days and directed by Dave Tynan. The play's writer, Emmet Kirwan, plays the role of Jason and Ian Lloyd Anderson plays the role of Daniel. The film expands on the two-character structure with a host of new characters including Sarah Greene as Jason's friend Lisa and Seana Kerslake as Jason's former girlfriend. The climactic weekend is now one hedonistic bank holiday in the Irish capital, where raves and afterparties spill into each other, and copious quantities of nameless chemicals flow.
‘Dublin Oldschool’ is a retro throwback to 90s films featuring working class characters whose lives revolved around dance music and weekend raves, like ‘Human Traffic’, ‘Sorted’, ‘Groove’ and ‘Go’, as well as the classic drug culture film of the era, ‘Trainspotting’. These films all featured roughly the same setup: a few twenty-something friends and their wider work and social circle, the latter devotees of the club scene, often with stories taking place over the course of a drug-fuelled weekend. They also featured themes of coming-of-age and club cultures, as well as relationships.
However, despite some poetic “choose life”-style voiceovers that Mark Renton might get jealous over, ‘Dublin Oldschool’ feels a little too raw in terms of both its acting and script for its message to land with much impact. It’s a mess of stock character types – the aloof cool girl, the goofy best friend, the disdainful ex and the stoner loser all feature, all floating around aimlessly. Only Seána Kerslake makes a mark (she was also the highlight of the recent Irish horror film ‘The Hole in the Ground’), and you can’t help but wish that she given more to do as Jason’s estranged girlfriend. Worst of all, the side plot concerning Jason and his homeless addict brother Daniel is lacklustre and deadeningly clichéd, when it should be the beating heart of the film.
It’s a mess of stock character types – the aloof cool girl, the goofy best friend, the disdainful ex and the stoner loser all feature – all floating around aimlessly.
Superficially glancing at the serious implications of drug use and addiction without ever engaging, ‘Dublin Oldschool’ is little more than an empty high followed by a numb comedown.