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I managed to see this at what I think was the second screening in the world, a few days after its opening at the Dublin International Film Festival. While I was attending another film two nights later at the same theater, I saw Brendan Gleeson, Paul Mercier and the rest of the cast & crew at another promotional screening of Studs.
I have to say that I was bitterly disappointed with the film, I was by no means expecting a masterpiece, but what was presented to me, I believe lacked all the crucial elements of the genre it had set itself into. Before I continue, two things, I accept that some filmmakers like to subvert generic expectations, here this is simply not the case. Secondly, I know that it was based on a play (which I haven't read but have been informed that it isn't a shimmering piece of literature), but this does not excuse the massive narrative problems that permeate the film.
My main problem with the film is the script, forget that it was based on a play, as a sports comedy it simply doesn't work, the down and out team are trying to win a football cup, few of the games are shown (when they are, it is very short) and we are not given any satisfaction due to any of their sporting achievements. Having read so far, you might assume that it is not a strict sports film but a psychological study of the relation between a "charlatan" of a manager and his hopeless team. It certainly does not achieve this, I'm not even sure if it was aiming to. Any attempt to shed light on the history of any of the characters is hackneyed and peripheral. Overall, I found the script lacking in many respects.
I do think the performances and the music were good and technically, the film was well made. But aside from those points, which should be expected from any Irish film at this stage, I left the theater feeling very disappointed.
My judgment may seem harsh but I do think there is some hope for a strong national Irish cinema in the near future and this simply does not back that argument. As Studs has become a recommended Dublin Cineworld film (I was part of the audience at that screening), most people would seem to be disagreeing with me, so that means you should probably make your own judgment of the film.
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