I've seen films from a bunch of different countries. Spain, Thailand, China, Japan, Korea, Australia, Brazil, France, Belgium. But I think I may have seen my first Irish film. I suppose one could lump Ireland as part of the UK, but each part of the UK has, I suspect, it's own sensibility: England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales (am I missing anything?)
Cowboys and Angels starts off in one of these embarassing ways that made it difficult for me to watch the whole way through. I'd watch ten minutes then stop, and ten more and stop. I had first started watching this maybe two weeks ago, and only just finished it today.
The film starts off with Shane Butler, a shy Irish kid who works as a lowly civil servant, needing to find a place to stay, since he can't afford a place by himself. He meets up with Vincent Cusack, a gay fashion design student.
Initially, the film doesn't seem to know which way it wants to head. Both sides of Shane's life are so vastly different from what you'd expect a person like Shane to lead. On the one hand, he finds some drugs stashed in some vent that belongs to Keith. Keith apparently is a low-level thug that delivers and sells drugs. He eventually convinces Shane, who needs the money, to pick up some drugs for him.
On the flip side, Shane wants more out of his life than his civil servant job, and this is underscored by an elderly civil servant who is close to retirement, and has decided that his life has been a waste, since he was too scared to do the things he really wanted to do. His life is what will become of Shane if he doesn't jump at some opportunity.
Initially, it's almost too hard to believe that Keith would want a shy kid who's trying to be good to do drug running. To this extent, the film defies usually pigeonholing. Keith, despite his occupation, actually seems to care for Shane, and after a while, you discover the real reason that he has asked Shane to do this.
This could also be a film where Vincent is stereotyped as some flamboyant gay fashion guy, and yet, the film, generally speaking, takes his fashion career rather seriously, Whether Vincent would really spend all his time in bed hanging out with hot blonds is, perhaps, yet another thing that is hard to believe.
Despite many elements that just seem intellectually wrong, i.e., a guy like Shane would simply never get caught up with one side or the other (I could see him doing art through), there's something that begins to work, and I believe that what works is it's rather simply underlying message: do what you really want to do. Take chances in life. That message, combined with a storyline that tries to buck easy stereotyping makes for something that's rather involving, even as it doesn't always make sense.
I suspect it works because, despite the grandiose way Shane develops confidence in himself, it is about confidence, and to some extent, friendship.
The film ends much better than it starts, which is a minor feat in itself.
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