Kings (DVD Review)31 Aug, 2008 By: Pete Croatto
Stars Colm Meaney, Brendan Conroy, Donal O'Kelly, Barry Barnes, Donncha Crowley, Sean O'Tarpaigh.
Five middle-aged men — friends in Ireland who gradually lost touch after arriving in London in 1977 — reunite after their comrade's sudden death in Kings, a potent drama based on Jimmy Murphy's play The Kings of the Kilburn High Road.
The survivors are 30 years removed from their hopeful departure to better opportunities. Now, fueled by grief, booze, and regret, the wake for their friend Jackie (screen newcomer O'Tarpaigh) becomes an opportunity for most of the men to let down their guard.
Joe (Meaney of The Commitments and "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine") owns a successful construction business, and his success, coupled with his aversion to hiring Irish workers, angers the unemployed Jap (O'Kelly of The Van).
Máirtín (Barnes of Veronica Guerin) has stopped drinking, which has saved his family, but he believes his sobriety may have contributed to Jackie's death. Git, (Conroy of The Butcher Boy) Jap's roommate and closest friend, was the last person to see Jackie alive, and what he saw may hold all the men accountable.
Director and writer Tom Collins (Dead Long Enough) has fashioned an honest and bittersweet character study about missed opportunities and battling with the past, themes hammered home by the cast's intense acting.
The movie is reminiscent of other European working class films such as The Commitments and Once, though with less singing. Kings will appeal to viewers who favor introspective, gut-check character studies regardless of continental setting. The movie's relatively short running time also keeps it from lapsing into self-flagellation.
The DVD's extras include interviews with the cast and crew. A highlight of which is the actors talking about the difficulties of learning Irish Gaelic.