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King Of The Travellers - Review

King of the Travellers

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

LOFTY in ambition, average in execution, writer-director Mark O’Connor’s latest offering is an underwhelming affair.

Taking its cues from Shakespearean tragedy and the classic American cinema of the ’70s, King Of The Travellers is both a revenge drama and a tale of forbidden romance set among an Irish traveller community.

As a child, John Paul Moorhouse watched his father gunned down in a shooting he suspects was carried out by the rival Powers clan. When they return years later, John (now played by real-life traveller John Connors) sees a chance for revenge, firstly via sanctioned bare knuckle fights and then as tensions and violence between them escalate.

But complications occur when he falls for childhood sweetheart Winnie (Carla McGlynn), herself a prized member of the Powers clan.

Attempting to keep the peace, meanwhile, is John’s uncle Francis (Michael Collins), who finds his efforts continually undermined by John’s hot-head brother Mickey (Peter Coonan).

To be fair, there’s plenty going on in O’Connor’s screenplay to hook viewers in but the film overall is let down by some of the acting and the rushed nature of the direction.

O’Connor’s decision to use mostly untrained actors drawn from traveller communities backfires, lending the film an amateurish quality that feels particularly exposed during the supposedly big emotional moments. Hence, while everyone looks at ease shouting and cursing at each other, the weightier elements fail to ring true.

But then O’Connor’s direction doesn’t really help, either, jumping from one angry confrontation or fight to the next and reducing the Romeo & Juliet style love-story to an after-thought.

Nods to classic American genre staples such as The Godfather also feel ill-advised as they only highlight this film’s shortcomings more.

Hence, while King of The Travellers certainly boasts curiosity value, it fails to grip in the way that such a story should.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 80mins
UK Release Date: March 29, 2013