Winnie is ten. Winnie is in trouble at school. Winnie can get violent but only when the other kids disrespect her. Winnie is sensitive but she is unable to express her emotions. Winnie is a little traveler girl. She lives in a trailer in the docks area of Dublin with her mother and a few of her nine brothers and sisters. Her father is away, dead or gone. Everyday life is hard, all the more as the council authorities are intent on evicting them. But Winnie is resilient. Just like her combative mother she survives day after day, holds on, keeps hoping without even being aware of it... Written by
This is a 'slice-of-life' drama about a young traveller girl (Winnie) and her family in contemporary Ireland. Most of the (in)action takes place in a kind of lay-by next to a building site off a major road. You will probably forget that it is fiction - it's main characters are a real family and it is shot with a rough-and-ready documentary feel. Much of the dialogue is hard to catch and is spoken against a backdrop of traffic noise (probably as much a reason for showing it in the UK with subtitles as the issue of deciphering the accents). That said, there is visual poetry in much of the shooting (for example, the sequence where Winnie is ferreting around inside the Clothes Bin or where the girls go for chips).
The real strength of the movie is in what it refrains from saying: it scrupulously avoids sending a 'message' to anyone about anything. It simply presents - and is utterly convincing for that reason. The life is grim, but these people are not victims, they are not conspicuously persecuted by the authorities (the police and Council seem half-embarrassed to be issuing an eviction notice at the trailer door). Drink and solvent abuse and theft are presented more as the mere distractions of a daily routine rather than cause or effect. There isn't a lot to choose between teachers, social workers or even a traveller activist. These interested parties seem disengaged from the family's lifestyle and to be simply performing roles which barely impact upon the travellers' circumstances.
Although every opportunity for 'kitchen sink' plot development is thankfully eschewed, the trip to the standpipe for water which bookends the movie helps to suggest a cumulative worsening of the circumstances of the family.
I read somewhere that the director is influenced by the director Alan Clarke and you can see that. It has that directness of observation and honesty about human behaviour. Whatever, I look forward to the next feature by this director.
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